Attorney-General extends his condolences following the deaths of Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and Sir John McGrath

Attorney-General David Parker today paid tribute to former Chief Justice of New Zealand, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, GBE, PC, QC, who died yesterday aged 87, and former Supreme Court Judge Sir John McGrath, KNZM, QC, who died on 19 October 2018 aged 73.

“Both Sir Thomas and Sir John were eminent jurists who made a remarkable contribution to the law and justice in New Zealand. On behalf of the Government, I extend my deepest sympathies to their families,” David Parker said. 

Sir Thomas had a distinguished career as a barrister, becoming Queen’s Counsel in 1978 and President of the New Zealand Law Society from 1980 to 1982.  

He was Chief Justice for 10 years from 1989-1999, the first Chief Justice to be appointed from the New Zealand bench.  

He was responsible for significant modernisation of court processes including the introduction of computers, the case management system and the Criminal Appeals Division of the Court of Appeal and the abolition of wigs in High Court proceedings.  

During his retirement, Sir Thomas led a number of inquiries, including the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, the inquiry into aspects of the Christchurch Civic Creche case, and an investigation into New Zealand’s loss of co-hosting rights to the 2003 Rugby World Cup.  

Sir John McGrath was a distinguished member of the judiciary, serving as a judge of the Court of Appeal from 2000-2005 and Supreme Court from 2005-2015. 

Sir John was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1987, and was highly respected as Solicitor-General from 1989 to 2000. In that role he was the Government’s chief legal adviser, advocate in the appellate court, and head of the Crown Law Office.