High Court Justice John Fogarty

FOGARTY, John Gerald        

High Court Justice John FOGARTY FOGARTYJusticebw

Professional Data

2014 Judge Survey Score (1-10): 8.3    Ranking (out of 62): 6th

Postion & Titles: QC
Judge of: High Court, Christchurch, 2003
Specializations and Professional Interests:  see 2013 Law Society interview with Justice Fogarty below
Professional Comments:  Generally perceived by lawyers as one of the more fair judges on the High Court
Background / Education: Fogarty J graduated LLB (Hons.) from the University of Canterbury in 1971 and LLM from the University of Toronto in 1974. Between 1974 and 1985 he practised in the firm of Weston Ward & Lascelles in Christchurch, becoming a partner of the firm in 1978. Justice Fogarty went to the bar in 1985, was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1990, and became a High Court judge in 2003. He is based at the Christchurch High Court.
Degrees: LLB (Hons.) Canterbury, 1971, LLM Univ. of Toronto 1974
Admitted to the Bar: 1974
Company Involvements: Current Director of Casterton Investments Ltd, Casterton Forestry Ltd, Ngaio Point Ltd (in danger of being struck off) see Venning J

Personal Data

Born: Sex: Male
Married: Nan Michelle Children:
Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:
Miscellaneous: For many years Fogarty J has been an adviser to the Deaf Sports Federation of New Zealand and helped organise the 15th World Games for the Deaf in Christchurch in 1989.

  The Honourable Justice John Fogarty, Judge of the High Court of

   New Zealand

What is it about your current role that impassions you, and gets you excited about your job?

Consequences. That is what litigation is ultimately about. Life is hard enough without suffering consequences due to error of law. Judges try very hard to get the law right – to refine the issues to expose the contest as to the meaning or best application of the rule or standard to the material facts. Yes, I get passionate about that, and excited when I think I have found the just resolution of the issue.

What is the greatest challenge presented by your role? The biggest challenge?

Actively listening to unattractive arguments. By active listening I mean trying to take the argument in and find where the merit is in it – there will always be some. I believe strongly that we hear cases, not read them. I question a lot to test the argument.

What is the achievement (personal or professional) that you are most proud of?

Professional achievement? I am tempted to quote Kipling. It is hard to see any particular case as an achievement. I was very proud get to the Privy Council, first in ‘83, and to be engaged by Lord Wilberforce. I have since understood what a privilege that was – his influence endures and extends to NZ today, as a master of statutory interpretation.

What prompted you to go into law?

Default really. I would have liked a more practical profession, but I was not strong enough in the sciences and maths. I also wanted to go to sea. I grew up fishing for red cod off the wharves at Timaru, imagining I would take the Gothic out of its berth to sea, and still do.

What human quality do you admire most?

Humour – it binds us together. I find it very difficult sometimes to restrain myself on the bench. If humour is not the sort of quality that the question is aiming at, my answer is courage and dignity in the face of loss of dignity – I see it more often than one would expect.

What aspect of human nature do you dislike most? 

I think ultimately it is the uncertainty of our condition: that we are not sure what is our nature – who we are.

What is your favourite legal or political-themed movie of all time?

Casablanca. (I would probably answer any “most favourite movie” question the same way.) Fortunately I don’t have the space to defend the implicit contention that it is a politically-themed movie and not just a love story. I also loved Rumpole of the Bailey, and love all the Rumpoles who appear before me.