Chris Finlayson

Chris Finlayson
The Honourable
Chris Finlayson
43rd Attorney-General of New Zealand
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Michael Cullen
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Helen Clark
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party List
Assumed office
Personal details
Born 1956
Nationality New Zealand
Political party National Party
Occupation Lawyer

Christopher Francis Finlayson (born 1956) is a New Zealand lawyer, politician and Member of Parliament, representing the National Party. He is a Cabinet minister and the Attorney-General of New Zealand. He holds the ministerial portfolios of Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.[1]


Early life

Finlayson grew up in Wellington, and was educated at St. Patrick's College, Wellington. Finlayson graduated with a BA in Latin and French, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a Masters Degree in Law (LLM) from Victoria University of Wellington and has practiced law in Wellington for a number of years. He has also had a part-time teaching role at Victoria University of Wellington. Finlayson has been heavily involved in the arts community. He chaired Creative New Zealand's Arts Board from 1998 to 2001, and is currently a trustee of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. His particular interests are theatre and music. He is the patron of the Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society, which he was a member of when at university.

Legal background

Finlayson was admitted to the Bar as a barrister and solicitor in February 1981. He was a partner in Brandon Brookfield from 1986 to 1990 and then in Bell Gully from 1991 to 2003. He has practised as a barrister sole at the Barristers.Comm chambers since 2003.

Since his admission, Finlayson has appeared in all courts of New Zealand, including seven appearances before the Privy Council, including as counsel for the New Zealand Bar Association in Harley v McDonald [2001] 2 WLR 1749 and counsel for the British Government in Attorney-General for England and Wales v R (a decision of the Privy Council delivered on 17 March 2003). He also has extensive experience appearing before tribunals and local authorities in New Zealand.

Finlayson has had significant experience teaching in the Law Faculty of Victoria University of Wellington. Since 1987 he has taught civil procedure for LLB, conflict of laws both for LLB and for LLM, intellectual property for LLB (Hons) and ethics for LLB.

He has served as Law Society representative on the New Zealand Council of Law Reporting from 1990 until 1998 and the New Zealand Council of Legal Education from 1992 until 1998. Finlayson is currently a Law Society representative on the High Court Rules Committee.

Finlayson is a co-author of McGechan on Procedure, the leading New Zealand text on the practice and procedure of the courts of New Zealand and was the founding editor of the Procedure Reports of New Zealand. He has written papers on many subjects, including intellectual property, litigation and conflicts of interest and has presented New Zealand Law Society seminars on High Court practice, conflicts of interest and limitation.

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
2005–2008 48th List 27 National
2008–present 49th List 14 National

Finlayson joined the National Party in 1974, while still at St Patrick's College. He stood as National's candidate for the Mana electorate in the 2005 elections, and was also ranked twenty-seventh on National's party list, making him the second most highly ranked National candidate who was not already an MP. While he failed to win Mana, losing by a margin of 6,734 votes,[2] the National Party polled well on party votes and Finlayson was elected via the party list. Upon his election, he was appointed shadow attorney general by then leader Don Brash.

He had previously held the Shadow Cabinet roles of Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Treaty Negotiations Minister and Shadow Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister. And he was the Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

In June 2010 he was found by the registrar of pecuniary interests to have broken the rules in not declaring a directorship in his annual pecuniary interest return[3] for four years, calling his position as Attorney General into question.


Initially ranked 27th on the party list, Finlayson was promoted to 18th in the first caucus ranking after the 2005 general election. Following the election of John Key as leader, Finlayson was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet and placed at 14th on the 2008 election party list.


External links

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