Former High Court Judge and current Bankside barrister Paul Heath QC provided an interesting insight into his equally interesting career in the BusinessDesk ‘My Net Worth’ column.
Now working at Bankside as a mediator and arbitrator, focused on insolvency and restructuring work, his career has involved substantial issues of family and civil union matters, as well as his involvement in the issues arising from the collapse of South Canterbury FInance in 2010.
A 20 year veteran at Stace Hammond, he was born in England with parents who suffered the massive bombing of Coventry during the Second World War. They emigrated to New Zealand where his introduction to law came from a chance meeting with Otago University law school dean Richard Sutton, a chess-playing friend of his father’s.
His judicial appointment came, he said, “out of the blue” and followed a five year stint with the Law Commission, receiving a call from the Attorney General to take the High Court role in 2002.
He found his High Court role satisfying, but challenging too.
One of his cases involved a woman who sought to give birth during a porn movie. “That was my first experience of leading the six o’clock news,” he said.
Family and societal issues, such as determining the rights of an unborn child, were particularly challenging. He was faced with issues involving same-sex marriages and surrogacy that lead to questions of who the parent of the child was. “I thought it was fairly straight forward before I became a judge,” he said.
His work on civil unions at the Law Commission was influential and, he said, some of the most satisfying work he has been able to do.