The death today of Supreme Court Justice Robert Stanley Chambers (59) has been confirmed by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias.
Senior judicial communications officer Neil Billington told NBR ONLINE Chief Justice Elias is expected to issue a statement soon.
Justice Chambers was appointed to the Supreme Court in December 2011, after seven years on the Court of Appeal and five years on the High Court.
Justice Chambers, the husband of leading divorce Queen’s counsel Deborah Chambers (nee Hollings), began practice as a barrister in 1981 and was appointed Queen’s counsel in 1992.
He graduated LLB (Hons) from Auckland University in 1975 and gained a doctorate from Oxford University in 1978.
This is I believe our first Supreme Court Justice to die in office, and 59 is very young. No details on the cause of death but commiserations to his family, friends and colleagues.
The Attorney-General has said:
“Justice Chambers had an outstanding career as a servant of the law, ultimately appointed to the nation’s highest court,” Mr Finlayson said. “I was devastated to learn of his untimely death.”
“I served with him for many years on the Rules Committee of the High Court, and he had recently been appointed to the Council for Continuing Legal Education as the Chief Justice’s representative. He made a great contribution, and had only begun what was expected to be a long tenure on the Supreme Court.”
“He was involved in so many other areas outside the judiciary, and lived life to the full. It is not often one comes across the likes of Justice Chambers in the profession.”
And the Justice Minister:
“I am extremely sad to learn of the sudden death of Justice Robert Chambers.
“He was renowned across the profession as one of New Zealand’s greatest legal brains. His sudden death at such a young age is a significant loss to the legal community.
“I instructed Justice Chambers on many occasions when he was a barrister. I served with him on the Auckland District Law Society Council for a number of years and when he became President, I was Vice-President. I will always remember Justice Chambers’ for his humanity, terrific wit and way with words.
If he had not died at such a young age, he may have carried on as a Supreme Court Justice for the next 11 years or so. A huge loss.