News Item

April 2013

17th Annual NZ Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Commemorative Address

Justice Catherine Davani will deliver the 2013 New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Commemorative Address at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, in the Octagon, at 1pm on Wednesday 8 May. The Address commemorates Ethel Benjamin, New Zealand’s first woman lawyer, and celebrates her pioneering spirit, and the advancement of women in the law.

Allie Cunninghame, Convener of the Otago Women Lawyers Society hosting this event, says Justice Davani’s Address is sure to be of special interest to women lawyers in NZ. Justice Davani will bring an international perspective to issues facing women in the law, and her experience of working within a Common Law system, in a country which is in many ways quite different to New Zealand, is sure to be thought-provoking.

Justice Davani has 28 years of legal experience in Papua New Guinea (PNG), in Common Law and Civil Law (European) jurisdiction. She was appointed as a Judge to the National and Supreme Courts of PNG in 2001, after practicing law at both the public and private bar for 18 years, mostly in the civil litigation area.

Justice Davani has a keen interest in the development of law and how it should change to suit PNG’s needs. She was a Council member of the PNG Law Society for 10 years, and a member of the Lawyers Statutory Committee for 10 years. She is presently Chairman of the Judges Rules Committee and has been involved in major changes that have enhanced the practice of Law in PNG.

She has sat on major trials and deliberated on decisions affecting the political and social lifestyle of PNG. She presently serves on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Switzerland) and is President of the PNG Judicial Women’s Association.

While in New Zealand, Justice Davani will be a keynote speaker at the International Association of Women Judges’ Conference for Asia-Pacific Regional Judges (10-12 May, Auckland).

The NZ Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Commemorative Address is hosted annually by the Otago Women Lawyers’ Society in recognition of Ethel Benjamin, New Zealand’s first woman lawyer who graduated from University of Otago and was admitted to the bar in 1897.

The Law Foundation is providing funding of up to $5,194 for this event.