Kerryn Beaton

Attorney General David Parker has just announced 10 new silks appointed by the Governor General, and Kerryn, daughter of Bannockburn’s Pam and Alan Beaton, was one of those to receive the honour, and the only South Island appointee.

“The criteria for appointment recognise that excellence and leadership in the profession should be viewed through a wider, community lens. I am pleased to see that the profession continues to make a good contribution to access to justice.” David Parker said.

Kerryn graduated with an LLB from the University of Otago in 1995 and was admitted to the bar the same year.

Her practice has a particular focus on criminal cases involving abuse and vulnerable people, and on commissions of inquiry. She has been lead counsel in many complex jury trials both as a senior Crown prosecutor and since 2015 as a defence counsel.

She was seconded to be Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River Coal Mine Disaster and continued in that role once she joined the bar later in 2011. From 2012 to 2014 she was the Deputy Public Defender for Christchurch at the Public Defence Service.

She then worked as a legal advisor and investigator for the International Co-Investigating Judge at the ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) for two years (2014- 2016), where she led an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed by a Khmer Rouge cadre.

On her return to New Zealand in 2016 she recommenced her practice as a barrister sole in Christchurch, specialising in criminal defence.

Since 2019 she has worked as Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

“I’ve been lucky to have opportunities to work on commissions of inquiry into important issues at home and in Cambodia, including NZ’s current inquiry into historical abuse in state and faith-based care”, says Kerryn, adding, “This appointment as a Queen’s Counsel is a very exciting moment in my career and I’m proud to join the relatively small group of women silks specialising in criminal law.”

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