News Item

December 2017

2017 Winners of the Foundation's Annual Awards Announced

2017 NZ Law Foundation International Research Fellowship Te Karahipi Rangahau ? Taiao

The Law Foundation is pleased to announce that Dunedin barrister, Warren Forster is the 2017 recipient of the New Zealand Law Foundation’s International Research Fellowship New Zealand’s premier legal research award that provides recipients with up to $125,000 for study that will make a significant contribution to New Zealand law.

Mr Forster’s project “Bringing Sir Owen’s Vision to Life – Extending NZ’s ACC System” will involve researching overseas systems to develop recommendations for a world-leading disability system that doesn’t distinguish between sickness and accidents; one that focuses on support and empowerment for people in need rather than shifting costs within the health system.

Photo of Dame Sian Elias presenting Warren Forster with his 2017 NZ Law Foundation International Research Fellowship Award

Mr Forster says “Fifty years ago this week, Sir Owen Woodhouse published his world leading report into New Zealand’s personal injury system. We’ve now got the opportunity to make the integrated world leading disability system that he envisaged. Sir Owen foresaw the problems that we see now when we discriminate based on cause of disability. People’s experiences in both ACC and the disability system need to be improved.”

This research follows on from three earlier research projects led by Mr Forster in conjunction with Acclaim Otago*:

2013 Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee for the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Understanding the Problem: An analysis of ACC appeals Processes to Identify Barriers to Access to Justice for Injured New Zealanders, released July 2015
Solving the Problem: Causation, transparency and access to justice in New Zealand’s personal injury system, released in May 2017.

These projects highlighted numerous access-to-justice problems with the ACC appeals process, and resulted in the government commissioning a review of the issues raised.

Mr Forster has become a leading advocate for claimants turned down by ACC, and a key influencer of current reforms to the ACC appeals process.

Links to media items:

Radio NZ interview with Kathryn Ryan, Nine to Noon, 28 mins, 11/12/2017
Stuff news item 11/12/2017
NZ Herald news item 11/12/2017

The New Zealand Law Foundation’s International Research Fellowship, Te Karahipi Rangahau ? Taiao, is New Zealand’s premier legal research award, valued at up to $125,000 each year.


2017 NZLF Cleary Memorial Prize Winner

Rosa Polaschek has won this year’s NZ Law Foundation Cleary Memorial Prize – a prestigious award given to a young barrister or solicitor who shows outstanding future promise in the legal profession.

Photo Rosa Polaschek, recipient of 2017 Cleary Memorial Prize

Rosa graduated with BA/LLB (Hons) from University of Auckland in 2015 and due to her exceptional results received the Senior Scholar and Deans’ Academic Excellence awards. After graduating Rosa worked for 2 years as a judges’ clerk at the Auckland High Court. She is now an Assistant Crown Counsel in the Crown Legal Risk team.

Rosa has not only excelled in law, she has made, and continues to make, an impressive contribution to a number of community causes. Her desire to give back to the community, and her passion for law, goes back to her secondary schooling when she took part in Amnesty International and formed the Wellington High School Social Justice Club. Through the latter she ran a successful campaign on the rights of children in the anti-smacking referendum.

While at law school Rosa was Director of the Equal Justice Project (EJP) at the University of Auckland, a group that helps more than 150 law students to undertake pro bono work in the community. She also used her role as director to engage with the legal profession to provide opportunities for the EJP students and initiated a programme with Auckland District Law Society to provide a youth voice on their committees. She also volunteered as a student advocate through the Students’ Association providing assistance and support to other students. In 2012 Rosa volunteered with UnionAid, working with a union for Burmese migrant workers based in Thailand.

Now as a practising lawyer, Rosa continues to serve the community. Having been a board member and then co-Chair of the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association, she has been involved with organising CPD events and making submissions on bills. Rosa is currently on the Wellington Women Lawyers Association Committee and on the board of the YETI Trust which supports higher education of young people in Nepal. She also volunteers for Wellington Community Law Centre and mentors a Victoria University law student.

In the future Rosa aims to become a barrister and hopes to develop a particular specialty in the public law area where she can utilise her advocacy skills for public purposes.

Rosa’s passion for the law and her desire to give back to her community have been the two key drivers throughout her life, and no doubt will continue to direct her future path.
The New Zealand Law Foundation awards $5,000 annually for the Clearly Memorial Prize. This is given to a young barrister or solicitor who shows outstanding future promise in the legal profession.