News Item

November 2018

2018 Winners of Law Foundation's Annual Awards Announced

2018 NZ Law Foundation International Research Fellow to study “Taxing the Digital Economy”

International tax law expert Professor Craig Elliffe, of Auckland University’s Law Faculty, is the recipient of New Zealand’s leading legal research award, the 2018 New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellowship Te Karahipi Rangahau ? Taiao.

Photo of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias presenting Professor Craig Elliffe with the NZ Law Foundation's 2018 International Research Fellowship - photo by Martin Stewart Timeframe Photography

Many consider major multinational companies like Google, Facebook and Airbnb operate in New Zealand without paying a fair amount of tax. Professor Elliffe’s research will examine tax problems created by the digital economy and propose solutions to this complex international challenge. Worth up to $125,000, the Fellowship award will enable Professor Elliffe’s research in New Zealand and overseas to evaluate other countries’ plans for dealing with the issue.

Professor Elliffe says that despite the phenomenal growth of e-commerce in New Zealand and world-wide, many multinationals pay little tax in countries where they do business. A recent European Union report estimates that the average digitalised business pays an effective tax rate of 9.5 per cent, much lower than other forms of business operated by multinationals.

“There is widespread concern from governments and the public about the low level of income tax paid by companies operating in the digital economy,” he says. “Digital economy companies can transact with customers primarily using the internet, without any taxable presence in the country concerned.”

“My project examines the tax problems created by the digital economy in order to evaluate international strategies to address the issue and suggest potential solutions from a New Zealand perspective,” Dr Elliffe says.

He will work with politicians, tax policy officials and academia, and he expects to produce a monograph, symposia and public conference to discuss and debate solutions.

Professor Elliffe holds the following qualifications: BCom, LLB (hons) (Otago), LLM (hons), PhD (Cambridge), and FCA (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand). He is a current member of the New Zealand Government’s tax working group.

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.

High-achieving Cleary prize winner committed to volunteering

Laura Hardcastle, a young Wellington lawyer with a string of academic prizes and a passion for volunteering and learning Te Reo Maori, has won the New Zealand Law Foundation Cleary Memorial Prize for 2018.

Photo of Law Foundation Trustee Miriam Dean presenting Laura Hardcastle with the 2018 Cleary Memorial Prize Award

Laura graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Law and a BSc in Environmental Science and Geology from Victoria University of Wellington.

She has already published three legal articles, and now works as a junior solicitor with Bell Gully. In her life outside of law Laura is a keen writer of fiction, having completed the National Novel Writing Month for the past three years.*

Community service is important to Laura. She says, “Volunteering and giving back to the community is a key part of who I am. This is my way of giving back to the community and helping address some of the many injustices and inequities present in society.”

Laura has done pro bono work for clients in her specialties of medicines and healthcare regulation and has helped with the Wellington Community Law Centre and Wellington West Citizens’ Advice Bureau. She has also mentored two young women law students through Victoria’s Bridging the Gap programme, which pairs practising lawyers with those looking to enter the profession. She has also maintained contact with the University through judging mooting competitions and acting as a marker for two first-year papers.

Despite Laura’s demanding day job and her after-hours volunteering, she manages to study Te Reo part-time and has begun an LLM at Victoria. Her chosen subject is the regulation of medical devices, work which she hopes will contribute to the Ministry of Health’s Therapeutic Products bill.

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.

* National Novel Writing Month is an international challenge to write 50,000 words of original fiction over the month of November.