Blackstone Chambers

Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand

Doctor of Juridical Science [dyn]Fellow Chartered Governance Institute [dyn]Fellow Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators [dyn]Barrister High Court of New Zealand [dyn]Barrister and Solicitor Australia [dyn]Defence Counsel Pitcairn Island [dyn]
Only NZ lawyer ever to have won any cases before the UN Human Rights Committee and UN Committee Against Torture

Contact for Consultation

Tony has a backlog of cases and given the large number of inquiries Tony is receiving, only very limited initial free advice can be given, he received over 650 emails inquiries in 2018, as well as numerous phone calls.

As Tony will only be able to take a handful of cases, the vast majority of requests will be turned down, Tony is currently taking murder appeals, cases involving long term detention, and those involving intellectual disability or mental impairment. He will also consider serious and important breaches of the NZ Bill of Rights.

Whilst everyone considers their case is important and serious, please do not be offended if your important case is not one Tony is able to accept.

Dr Tony Ellis

Tony is a leading New Zealand and international Human Rights lawyer. Tony practices public law, and criminal law. He is well known for compensation cases covering prisoner’s rights including deaths, or other abuses in custody. His Privy Council case Taito v R for 12 clients resulted in a possible 1500 criminal appeals being wrongly decided. During Justice Arnold’s retirement speech he said of Taito v R where he was the Solicitor-General appearing for the Crown that it was “the greatest forensic [court room] failure in New Zealand history”.

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

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.

Prof Mads Andenæs, Faulty of Law University of Oslo, and Ex Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2018 described Dr Ellis as the most important legal practitioner bringing cases to the UN human rights treaty bodies, and also an outstanding legal scholar.



About Dr Tony Ellis from all the media in New Zealand.


Tony will accept cases in the following areas in the High Court or above: