New support for the Human Rights Review Tribunal

The Associate Minister of Justice, Aupito William Sio, has today announced the appointment of five Deputy Chairpersons to the Human Rights Review Tribunal to ensure that people have greater access to justice and that their voices are heard.

“This Government has acknowledged the unacceptable backlog of cases before the Human Rights Review Tribunal that developed under the previous National Government and we have taken action by establishing the Deputy Chairperson positions to help reduce the growing backlog,” says Aupito William Sio.

“The appointment of five Deputy Chairpersons will mean the Tribunal will now have the flexibility to provide certainty and reduce waiting times for people who have claims that have not been heard for a long time.

"The law changes this Government made will enable Deputy Chairpersons to share decision-making and decision-writing duties of the Tribunal.

“All of the five appointments have extensive litigation and public law experience and collectively bring together a strong set of skills to the Tribunal.

“The combined skill sets of the Deputy Chairs, in addition to the improvements we’ve made to the operational work of the Tribunal, gives me great confidence that we can improve the experience of people using the Tribunal, and make sure that justice is not denied to them by a lack of judicial resources.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal hears claims relating to breaches of the Human Rights Act 1993, Privacy Act 1993 and the Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994. Claims could relate to discrimination, sexual harassment, racial harassment, the privacy principles, and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.

The Tribunal is an independent judicial body which is administered by the Ministry of Justice, and is separate from the Human Rights Commission, Privacy Commissioner, and Health and Disability Commissioner.

The Tribunal’s Chairpersons are Rodger Haines QC and Martha Roche.

“Previously, the Chairpersons were required to preside at all Human Rights Review Tribunal sittings and had all the responsibility for writing decisions.

"I would like to thank Mr Haines in particular for his commitment to improving the Tribunal,” says Aupito William Sio.

Deputy Chairpersons Appointed

Katherine Anderson, Auckland

Ms Anderson has been a panel member on the Human Rights Review Tribunal since 2013. She is a senior and experienced litigation and public law lawyer with extensive private and public law experience. She was a policy advisor on legal issues for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2007 to 2010 providing policy and legal advice on a broad range of portfolios. Ms Anderson was a senior legal advisor to the Police team in relation to the Pike River Royal Commission between 2011 and 2012. After three years as Director Legal Risk at Auckland Council Ms Anderson is presently a partner in a large national law firm.

Martha Coleman, Wellington

Ms Coleman describes herself as a human rights specialist. She is an experienced public lawyer with over 20 years practice. She has been a Barrister sole since 2014 and for the previous 14 years was employed by the Crown Law Office as a Crown Counsel specialising in the area of human rights. She has extensive experience in providing advice and representation in relation to human rights issues, including those arising under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993. She has represented the Crown in a number of key discrimination cases. Previous to that she was a solicitor at Chapman Tripp, a judges’ clerk in the Court of Appeal and lecturer at Victoria University teaching discrimination law, administrative law and women workers law and equality.  Ms Coleman has been a Parole Board Convenor since 2017 having been a Parole Board Member from 2014. She has been a District Inspector for Mental Health since 2017. Ms Coleman holds an LLM from Yale University where she studied on a Fulbright Scholarship specialising in constitutional and anti-discrimination law.

Sarah Eyre, Wellington

Ms Eyre is a New Zealander of Tongan and Pakeha descent. She is adept at working within and moving between different cultures. She has extensive experience working with diverse and minority groups, including Māori, Pacific peoples and refugee claimants. She has 18 years legal experience. She is presently a Visiting Justice (since 2015), a Disputes Tribunal Referee (since 2011) and a member of the Real Estate Agents Authority Complaints Assessment Committee (since 2014). From 2003 to 2011 she worked for an Auckland law firm providing general legal advice including Treaty claims and Immigration issues. From 2000 to 2002 she was a Refugee Status Officer for Immigration New Zealand. Relevantly she is Chair of the Real Estate Authority’s decision-writing committee; deputy chair of a Complaints Assessment Committee for the Real Estate Authority and a mentor for new Referees of the Disputes Tribunal.

Jane Foster, Wellington

Ms Foster is a highly experienced public lawyer with significant expertise in human rights and administrative law including nearly 20 years of litigation practice, including in matters involving the Human Rights Act, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and the Privacy Act. Since 2015 she is presently employed as general counsel at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Her principal responsibility is to provide expert legal advice and quality assurance for the Commissioner and his office in administering the Privacy Act 1993, as well as managing any litigation in which the office is involved. She has previously worked for the Crown Law Office where she started as assistant crown counsel in 1997, moving to associate Crown counsel role in 2004, then to a Crown counsel role in 2009. She worked for 15 years in the Crown Law Human Rights Team. Between 1995 and 1997 she was a litigation solicitor for Chapman Tripp.

Gillian Goodwin, Auckland

Ms Goodwin has been a panel member of the Human Rights Review Tribunal since 2013. For the past 29 years she has been a partner in major law firms, most recently Anthony Harper since 2013. Her area of expertise is corporate and commercial law with an emphasis on securities law and finance. Ms Goodwin is a member of the Institute of Directors, the Auckland District Law Society Commercial Law Committee and a past member of the New Zealand Law Society Commercial and Business Law Committee. From 2012 to 2016 she was a National Board Member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association which provides support for families affected by muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions.