Chris Finlayson

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For the British businessman, see Chris Finlayson (businessman).
The Honourable
Chris Finlayson
QC MP
Chris Finlayson-Net Hui 2011.jpg
43rd Attorney-General of New Zealand
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Michael Cullen
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Helen Clark
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Michael Cullen
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party List
Incumbent
Assumed office
2005
Prime Minister John Key
Personal details
Born 1956
Wellington
Nationality New Zealand
Political party National Party
Occupation Lawyer

Christopher Francis "Chris" Finlayson QC (born 1956) is a New Zealand lawyer, politician and Member of Parliament, representing the National Party. He is a Cabinet minister and the Attorney-General of New Zealand. He holds the ministerial portfolios of Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.[1]

Early life[edit]

Finlayson grew up in Wellington, where he attended St. Patrick's College. He graduated with a BA in Latin and French and an LLM from Victoria University of Wellington and has practiced law in Wellington for a number of years. He has also had a part-time teaching role at Victoria University of Wellington. Finlayson has been heavily involved in the arts community. He chaired Creative New Zealand's Arts Board from 1998 to 2001, and is currently a trustee of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Legal background[edit]

Finlayson was admitted to the Bar as a barrister and solicitor in February 1981. He was a partner in Brandon Brookfield from 1986 to 1990 and then in Bell Gully from 1991 to 2003. He has practised as a barrister sole at the Barristers.Comm chambers since 2003. At Bell Gully he spent years fighting for Ngāi Tahu against the government, pursuing its treaty claims through a series of high-profile court battles. "I used to love going to the office in the morning when we were suing the Crown", Finlayson said in a speech in 2009. "Ngai Tahu mastered the art of aggressive litigation, whether it was suing the Waitangi Tribunal and [National Treaty negotiations minister] Doug Graham or the Director-General of Conservation. It was take no prisoners and it resulted in a good settlement."[2] The signing of the Treaty deal with Ngāi Tahu in 1997, he said in his maiden speech in parliament, was the highlight of his legal career.

Since his admission, Finlayson has appeared in all courts of New Zealand, including seven appearances before the Privy Council, including as counsel for the New Zealand Bar Association in Harley v McDonald [2001] 2 WLR 1749 and counsel for the British Government in Attorney-General for England and Wales v R (a decision of the Privy Council delivered on 17 March 2003). He has extensive experience appearing before tribunals and local authorities in New Zealand. He has had significant experience teaching in the Law faculty of Victoria University of Wellington. Since 1987, he has taught civil procedure for LLB, conflict of laws both for LLB and for LLM, intellectual property for LLB (Hons) and ethics for LLB. He served as Law Society representative on the New Zealand Council of Law Reporting from 1990 until 1998 and the New Zealand Council of Legal Education from 1992 until 1998.[citation needed]

Finlayson co-authored McGechan on Procedure, the leading New Zealand text on the practice and procedure of the Courts of New Zealand, and was the founding editor of the Procedure Reports of New Zealand. He has written papers on many subjects, including intellectual property, litigation and conflicts of interest and has presented New Zealand Law Society seminars on High Court practice, conflicts of interest and limitation.[citation needed]

Since his appointment as Attorney General, Finlayson has been successful in reaching an unprecedented number of financial Waitangi Treaty settlements with many Maori iwis he had represented in private practice. He has also used his executive powers to make more High Court applications seeking litigants be prevented court access on grounds they are vexatious than in the prior 60 years,[3][better source needed] including a protracted court battle against legal news blogger Vince Siemer.

On 13 December 2012, Finlayson appointed himself[4] a Queen's Counsel due to his role as Attorney-General.[5]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
2005–2008 48th List 27 National
2008–2011 49th List 14 National
2011 – present 50th List 9 National

Finlayson joined the National Party in 1974, while still at St Patrick's College. He stood as National's candidate for the Mana electorate in the 2005 elections, and was also ranked twenty-seventh on National's party list, making him the second most highly ranked National candidate who was not already an MP. While he failed to win Mana, losing by a margin of 6,734 votes,[6] the National Party polled well on party votes and Finlayson was elected via the party list. Upon his election, he was appointed shadow Attorney-General by then leader Don Brash. He had previously held the Shadow Cabinet roles of Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Treaty Negotiations Minister and Shadow Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister. And he was the Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

In June 2010 he was found by the registrar of pecuniary interests to have broken the rules in not declaring a directorship in his annual pecuniary interest return.[7]

Rank[edit]

Initially ranked 27th on the party list, Finlayson was promoted to 18th in the first caucus ranking after the 2005 general election. Following the election of John Key as leader, Finlayson was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet and placed at 14th on the 2008 election party list.

Personal life[edit]

Finlayson has described himself as being an "odd fish" since he is gay as well as being a Catholic.[8] He has no partner, and says he is celibate.[8]

He is a cousin of Labour MP Annette King (with whom he traded insults in 2013). [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ministerial List for Announcement on 17 November 2008" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  2. ^ Finlayson, Christopher (14 July 2009). "Treaty Settlements: Speech for Ta Apirana Ngata Memorial Lecture". beehive.govt.nz. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Finlayson Kiwisfirst Man of the Year, 11 January 2013
  4. ^ Pursuant to regulation 4 of the Queen’s Counsel Regulations
  5. ^ "Appointment of Queen's Counsel" (20 December 2012) 151 New Zealand Gazette 4437 at 4463.
  6. ^ "2005 Official Count Results -- Mana". Electoral Commission. 1 October 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007. 
  7. ^ "Attorney-general breaks rules by not declaring company directorship". Stuff. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/3752691/The-man-in-the-middle
  9. ^ "Today in Politics". Stuff/Fairfax. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Cullen
Attorney-General
2008–present
Incumbent
Minister Responsible for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations
2008–present
Preceded by
Helen Clark
Minister of Arts, Culture and Herritage
2008–present