Judge Paul Barber died on 4th October 2016 after a battle with motor neuron disease.
Wellington barrister and taxation specialist Pam Davidson reflects on his contribution to tax law in New Zealand and on her experience of working alongside him on the text: “Taxation of Property Transactions in New Zealand”, which will be available on 31 October 2016.
This new book is the third in a new improved tax library – a project begun by Thomson Reuters in conjunction with Professor John Prebble and Judge Paul Barber in 2013.
The first book published was Craig Elliffe’s 2015 Northey Prize winner “International and Cross-Border Taxation in New Zealand”.
Although not initially part of the project, its author was pleased to have his book included in the tax library update.
“International and Cross-Border Taxation in New Zealand” was followed by “GST in New Zealand” – a book Judge Barber persuaded Grant Pearson to take on. When it was launched in Parliament in April 2016 we learned from Grant just how much he was indebted to Judge Barber for his guidance.
From commission to completed text
It was Judge Barber who put Pam Davidson’s name forward to write “Taxation of Property Transactions in New Zealand”. It was, she says, an honour to be promoted and supported by him.
After accepting the challenge to write the text, Pam says she found herself on a remarkable journey, accompanied and advised by a remarkable man.
Judge Barber she says understood the challenges of being both practitioner and author. He valued the pragmatic combination of insight informed by practical experience. She was, she says, empowered by the trust he had in her to write the book.
In working alongside him Pam experienced how he worked. It was she says a privilege to be project managed by him. The process was calm, careful and systematic, and he always gave timely, constructive feedback. As she wrote each chapter it was submitted to Judge Barber for comment. Her pages would come back, having been printed out, annotated by hand. His remarks, she says, were pertinent, pithy and accessible. The system continued despite Judge Barber becoming ill. Pam says, he kept reading her work until he literally couldn’t any longer.
Judge Barber was, says Pam “an old school gentleman” – the embodiment of quiet dignity. He had great integrity, was the antithesis of flashy, valued service above self-puffery and would have been uncomfortable hearing others say how wonderful he was.
Judge Barber’s legacy
In her opinion Judge Barber’s work for the Taxation Review Authority, which comprises hundreds of largely unheralded decisions, forms the bedrock of tax law from the 1980s onward. It is, she says, the platform on which others, like herself, have built their knowledge. His judgments, she says, are notable for being sensible, grounded in common sense and fair.
Taxation of Property Transactions in New Zealand
Pam says the book they worked on together will always be special to her – a poignant reminder of a very special man who gave her a challenge and placed his trust in her to meet it.
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