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The Right Honourable
Sir Owen Woodhouse
President of the Court of Appeal

In office
Preceded by Clifford Richmond
Succeeded by Robin Cooke
Personal details
Born 18 July 1916(1916-07-18) (age 106)
Napier, New Zealand

Lieutenant Commander Sir Arthur Owen Woodhouse ONZ KBE DSC (born 18 July 1916), known as Sir Owen, is a New Zealand jurist and chair of government commissions.

He was born in Napier and graduated from the University of Auckland with an LL.B. in 1940. During the World War II he served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was then seconded to Royal Navy working as liaison officer with Yugoslav Partisan. By the end of the war he was serving as Naval Attaché at the British Embassy in Belgrade. He was appointed a Judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court in 1961, a Judge of the New Zealand Court of Appeal in 1974[1] and was President of the Court of Appeal from 1981[2] to 1986. He was President of the Law Commission from 1986 to 1991. He was made a Privy Counsellor and member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1974.

He was the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Accident Compensation from 1966 to 1967, which produced the Woodhouse Report that recommended a “no-fault” accident compensation scheme. The Report is regarded as one of the most significant legal reforms of this generation. He was commissioned by the Australian Government the result being the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry, Compensation and Rehabilitation in Australia, now known as the Australian Woodhouse Report. He later prepared a Third Woodhouse Report as President of the Law Commission on Personal Injury, Prevention and Recovery, which recommended an end to the disparities between the treatment of accident victims and those incapacitated by sickness or disease.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law by Victoria University of Wellington in 1978 and York University, Toronto in 1981.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1944 for naval operations in the Adriatic. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1974,[3] a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1981 Queen's Birthday Honours[4] and an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand in 2007.[5][6]


  1. "Judge of the Court of Appeal Appointed" (5 February 1974) 21 The New Zealand Gazette 416.
  2. "Appointment of President of Court of Appeal" (17 February 1981) 21 The New Zealand Gazette 421.
  3. "Special Honours List" (26 September 1974) 93 The New Zealand Gazette 2047.
  4. "The Queen’s Birthday Honours 1981" (23 June 1981) 74 The New Zealand Gazette' 1737'
  5. "Special Honours List" (6 February 2007) 14 The New Zealand Gazette 257.
  6. Eames, David (6 February 2007). "Special Honours: Sir Owen Woodhouse". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 

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