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As I still struggle through my first New Zealand winter in three years, Bankside Chambers’ strong pacific connection provides some warmth! This month the Privy Council issued two decisions with Bankside connections.

Browne v Munukoa and another [2018] UKPC 18

This case centred on Mãori custom in the Cook Islands and the rights of a child adopted from outside the blood family to succeed to the land of the adoptive parents. The Cook Islands Court of Appeal (Barker, Fisher and Paterson JJA – the Bankside connection) had accepted that “maturation” was a condition of the right of a non-blood adoptee to succeed, and that the adoptee must have been accepted by the family as one of them for the purpose of succession.

The Privy Council undertook an extensive review of the Cook Islands land law and custom. It held that, subject to any variants which may be proved for particular islands or tribes, a non-blood adoptee is entitled to succeed to the lands of his or her adoptive parents if the adoption is complete or “mature”. An adoption is “mature” if the adoptive parents and the near family (ie those who would be entitled to succeed in the absence of the adoption) have accepted the adoptee as part of the family for the purpose of succession in the same way as if he had been the natural child of his adoptive parents.  The Board accepted that the relevant acceptance must have occurred by the time of the deceased death and agreed with Court of Appeal’s view that it involves a value judgment to be exercised in the light of all the facts leading up to the deceased’s death.

Warren v The State [2018] UKPC 13

In Warren, Simon Mount QC and Danielle Kelly from Bankside, along with Kieran Raftery QC represented the Government of Pitcairn Islands in the final appeal in this long running litigation involving Mr Warren and his conviction for possession of child pornography.

Mr Warren challenged a number of aspects of Pitcairn Islands Constitution alleging that it had resulted in range of failures in administration, deficiencies and impropriety in the appointment of judges, judicial bias and lack of independence, lack of democracy and other similar causes leading to “systemic constitutional error”.

The Privy Council rejected all ground of appeals (described as diffuse, amorphous and often overlapping) and upheld the conviction.

And in other Pasifika news:

This October Rarotonga will host the Pacific Island Law Officers Network (PILON) annual meeting.  PILON is a network of senior law officers from Pacific Island countries, including Australia and New Zealand, who come together to address domestic and regional law and justice issues.

Pacific island countries face common challenges in the law and justice field. PILON focuses on legal issues that are not addressed in other Pacific policy forums and provides a forum where these issues can be discussed and progressed at a regional level. Through PILON, communication and cooperation between law officers in the Pacific region is enhanced.

PILON strategic plan identifies three priorities with working groups set up to provide training, resources and law reform across the region. Current priorities include sexual and gender based violence, environmental crime and corruption and cybercrime.

Further information on the work of PILON can be found at:

By Alison Mills