Family Court Associates appointed

Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of the first six Family Court Associates, in a move designed to relieve pressure on the Family Court system.

“The associates will take responsibility for much of the initial work required to get cases to the point that a substantive decision can be made, including conducting mediation and settlement conferences and issuing pre-hearing directions.

“There are presently 16,000-plus active cases before the Family Court and the average age of those cases is more than 300 days. These associate roles will free up Family Court Judges to devote more time to hearing and determining substantive matters before the Court.”

The appointees will take up their roles on 2 April 2024. Four will be based in Auckland and two in Christchurch.

Those appointed are:

Rachel Lohrey:

Ms Lohrey is a Queenstown-based barrister who is a principal advisor at the Institute of Judicial Studies.  She began practice in Christchurch before moving to Palmerston North, initially as an in-house lawyer at Oranga Tamariki then on to private practice. Ms Lohrey has also taught postgraduate and professional courses for the College of Law.

Rebecca Murphy:

Ms Murphy is a Christchurch-based barrister, having been in sole practice at Walker Street Chambers since 2021. She joined Canterbury Community Law Centre in 2017 while teaching at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. Recently, she has worked on the legal assistance panel for the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.

Johan Niemand:

Mr Niemand is a Hamilton-based lawyer and has been a partner in Niemand Peebles Hoult since 2009. He has a wide-ranging legal practice focusing predominantly on family law. He is currently the Deputy Chair of the Family Law Section and a past president of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty branch of the New Zealand Law Society.

Johanna Robertson:

Ms Robertson is an Auckland-based barrister whose legal career started in Auckland in the mid 1980’s before spending more than a decade working in the UK in firms specialising in family law.  She returned to New Zealand in 2005, firstly at Gubb and Partners and then Jackson Russell, during which time she was appointed to the Lawyer for Child list.  She commenced her barrister’s practice in 2008 and has maintained a general practice in relationship property, family protection and parenting matters.

Sonya Singh:

Ms Singh is a barrister based in Auckland with Halcyon Chambers. She practices in a variety of family law and mental health work and speaks Hindi and Mandarin. Ms Singh sits part time as an adjudicator of the Tenancy Tribunal and has previously worked as in-house counsel with Oranga Tamariki, and in overseas jurisdictions in the UK and Australia.

Mark N Tolich:

Mr Tolich started his working career in 1980 at McElroy Duncan and Prebble and left in 1983 to undertake post-graduate studies at Oxford University. He returned to New Zealand in 1986 and joined Rice Craig in Papakura as a solicitor and later partner, remaining with that firm until 2008.  In 2009 he joined Corban Revell as a consultant and continues to hold that position.