You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Supreme Court sits in gender milestone

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/06/2017

Female judges outnumber male judges in New Zealand's highest court for the first time in the country's history.

Three women and two men sat on the Supreme Court bench on Tuesday, marking a significant legal milestone, Law Society president Kathryn Beck says.

"Our highest court now has a majority of women, and that is something to celebrate in the move towards a justice system and legal profession where there is gender equality," she says.

The milestone comes after Justice Terence Arnold recently retired from his place among the six permanent Supreme Court justices.

It also comes 120 years after New Zealand's first woman lawyer, Ethel Benjamin, was admitted as a barrister and solicitor.

However, there is still progress to be made, Ms Beck said.

"Over the whole judiciary, 68 per cent of our judges are men," she said.

"This is out of kilter with New Zealand society as a whole, and the legal profession where women will outnumber men in a few months."

The Supreme Court sitting in Wellington on Tuesday was to hear a case brought by two New Zealand-based Cathay Pacific pilots, who say they were being discriminated against by being forced to retire at age 55.


* Three of six judges on the Supreme Court of New Zealand are women

* Three of seven judges on the High Court of Australia are women

* Four of nine judges on the Supreme Court of Canada are women

* Three of the nine judges on the Supreme Court of the United States are women

* One of 11 judges on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is a woman

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon