Queen’s Birthday Honours 2016: Dame Ellen France

Justice France has been knighted for services to the judiciary.

New Zealand’s president of the Court of Appeal believes being knighted reflects the work of the judiciary overall, not just her own.

Justice Ellen France will be dubbed a Dame Companion to the New Zealand order of Merit for services to the judiciary.

Dame France has been president of the Court of Appeal since September 2014, after joining that court eight years earlier.

She was appointed a High Court judge in 2002, following a legal career which began in Auckland in 1981.

Her other roles have included deputy solicitor general for public law, Crown Counsel for the Crown Law Office, and senior legal adviser in the reform division of the Department of Justice.

Dame Ellen says she was surprised but honoured to receive such recognition in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

She believes the honour is not just for her but for the work of the Court of Appeal and judiciary more broadly, and for its important “public service” role in society.

Last year, Dame Ellen sat on the Court of Appeal’s first all-female bench in its 153-year history, with Justices Christine French and Justice Helen Winkelmann.

Then NZ Law Society President Chris Moore said the “momentous occasion” was a “great step” towards equality in law, at a time when only 29% of the country’s judges were women.

Dame Ellen will keep celebrations of the honour to a family affair, saying she will "probably just have lunch" with them today.

Her husband, Justice Simon France, is also a High Court judge.

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