The annual conference travels South to a warm welcome
There were two “firsts” in Christchurch on Wednesday 20 March: it was the first crisp morning of the year (following a descent to 5 degrees overnight), indicating that autumn really had arrived on the back of a glorious summer; and it was also the first time that the Cradle to Grave Conference took place anywhere other than in Auckland.
The arrival of 165 practitioners from Christchurch and around the South Island soon warmed the room. Judge Murfitt gave the opening address “Observations from the Bench” providing insights into applications under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 and property disputes of other kinds which, while proportionately smaller in number in terms of the Court’s workload (representing 4% and 3% respectively of the 65,000 applications filed each year), are by their very nature usually complex. He observed that much of the litigation coming before the Family Court arrives as the result of unforeseen complications that arise from a course of action that has been previously taken by a general practitioner for a quite orthodox purpose.
The day was varied in subject matter and highly informative, delivering practical content for lawyers to observe in their practice immediately. It provided a “journey” of sorts for the attendees, from the difficult territory in relation to how the Ministry of Social Development views deprivation of assets and income when considering residential care subsidies and gifting, as delivered by Theresa Donnelly (and complemented by her thorough paper provided in the conference materials), to matters to take into account when determining what is or isn’t a de facto relationship, delivered by Sonja Clapham. Stephen McCarthy enlightened the attendees on the change in approach in resolving disputes among co-owners of property under the Property Law Act 2007, while Brian Carter spoke of the potential pitfalls in relation to certifying agreements under s 21 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. Juliet Moses’ illustration of how the law would apply in a typical situation where a trustee is to be, or should be, removed was topical following the Carmine v Ritchie case. The conference culminated in a joint address given by Christchurch speakers, Jeff Kenny and Jared Ormsby, which was well-received and engaged the audience through to the end of a big day.
Over the drinks and nibbles that followed, the general chatter seemed to indicate that the day out of the office had been well spent. Certainly this is supported by the feedback received which has been outstandingly positive both in terms of the content and delivery by each of the speakers. There was a strong sentiment that something of value had been provided. Warmed by this, it seems that the Cradle to Grave Conference should return to the South on another fresh autumn day next year!