Dame Sian Elias, the New Zealand Chief Justice, is embroiled in a claim of potential conflict of interest, similar to the claim against fellow Judge Justice Bill Wilson.
LawFuel, the legal jobs and legal news website reports that
the ‘recusal’ and bias arguments against Supreme Court judges has taken on new energy with a Queen’s Counsel making serious allegations in respect of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias’ role in a case involving her husband, Hugh Fletcher.
The Chief Justice is now becoming embroiled herself in a ‘recusal’ issue, which threatens the future of her fellow jurist, Justice Bill Wilson.
The Stiassny-Siemer defamation battle, a turf war that has been fought viciously for some years and has resulted in one of the largest-ever defamation awards in New Zealand legal history, as well as seeing maverick publisher Vince Siemer jailed, has reared its head again and has Dame Sian Elias, the Chief Justice, at centre stage.
The National Business Review reported this week on a case involving Dame Sian’s husband, Hugh Fletcher who together with Auckland Receiver Michael Stiassny both sit on the board of energy company Vector Limited.
Vector is presently involved in a Supreme Court appeal which, according to documents filed by Vince Siemer’s lawyer, Robert Lithgow QC, directly affect herself and her husband through both financial and horse racing interests the parties jointly share.
Michael Stiassny is also chairman of the New Zealand Racing Board. Both Hugh Fletcher and Dame Sian are enthusiastic racing industry investors and participants. The major issues for Justice Bill Wilson also involves racing, centering upon his heavy financial involvement with Auckland QC Alan Galbraith in the Rich Hill Stud operation.
Justice Wilson’s involvement has lead to a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, David Gasgoigne, who in turn has recruited the assistance of former Australian Chief Justice Murray Gleeson to determine how the complaint issue against the judge should be handled.
The National Business Review reported on the issue involving Dame Sian, saying there was an “intersection of relationships” that gave rise to an appearance of bias that was sufficient to require the Chief Justice to ‘recuse’ herself from the appeal involving Vector, and therefore her husband.
Dame Sian Recusal Story