Tony is based in Wellington, but can also see clients in Central Auckland. He takes work on human rights matters within his realm of expertise especially from clients seeking an international human rights perspective, and takes United Nations Human Rights cases to a variety of UN bodies. He has for example given advice on Australian, Kuwaiti, and Pitcairn cases, and took a death in custody case from Latvia to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Tony is well known for compensation cases covering prisoner’s rights including deaths, or other abuses in custody. Tony’s human rights interests include Civil and Criminal trials, and appeals. He takes Bill of Rights cases, Judicial Reviews, Habeas Corpus, Extradition, Constitutional Law, and Preventive Detention cases as well as cases involving recusal (disqualification) of Judges.
Two current cases include, settlement of a case involving mistreatment of 74 of the country’s prisoners unlawfully detained in solitary confinement for lengthy periods in Auckland prison in 2000 is now subject to settlement offers, some 12 years after the Supreme Court determined that regime was unlawful. A murder extradition to China case Kim v Minister of Justice has been heard before the Supreme Court awaiting judgment, the Court of Appeal decision attracted international publicity in at least 13 overseas papers including the New York Times, and the London Financial Times.
On 31 October 2017 Tony travelled to Geneva for “the first case in which such an invitation has been extended” to orally provide additional information in a complex case before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Miller and Carroll v New Zealand. This decision delivered in April 2018 is an important case for all New Zealand prisoners on either preventive detention or other indeterminate sentences such as life for murder, or lengthy periods of detention for the mentally ill or intellectually disabled. That case remains the only oral hearing before the Human Rights Committee.
In 2019 Tony spent 6 months at Harvard Law School, as a Human Rights Program Fellow, he contrasts two New Zealand clients, a murder/rapist with an intellectually detained person the link to the article ‘A Tale of Two Risks: risk assessments and treatment of two dangerous long-term New Zealand detainees’ he wrote from his research at Harvard is at http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/AEllis_WP00004.pdf
Tony was the first and is still the only New Zealand lawyer ever to have won any cases (6) before United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies. Four before the UN Human Rights Committee, one before UN Committee against Torture Vogel v New Zealand (2017) and one before the UN Working Party against Arbitrary Detention A v New Zealand (2015). He regularly attends United Nations Human Rights meetings about New Zealand issues in Geneva, and New York. His first UN case Rameka v New Zealand is listed in 50 “Leading cases of the Human Rights Committee“. He also makes submissions on treaty bodies draft General Comments, e.g Diplomatic Assurances on torture, and since 2004 has made shadow reports to UN human rights committees on the NZ Government’s compliance with international treaties.
Tony is a past President and Chairperson of the New Zealand Council of Civil Liberties for over 8 years. He is a frequent media commentator on human rights issues.
Tony takes private work, civil and criminal legal aid in the High Court, or above. He will consider cases in specialist tribunals, but would rarely take a District Court or Family Law Case, except those involving intellectually disabled, or autistic persons. Tony’s work is widely reported in the law reports, there are at least 110 cases reported with 55 cases being in the Court of Appeal and two cases reported in the Law Reports of the Commonwealth, Taunoa v Attorney-General and Police v Beggs.
PO Box 24347
Phone: 04 473 1952