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Justice Hugh Williams served as a Master (now Associate Judge) of the High Court from 1989 to 1993. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1995 and served as Senior Puisne Judge 2008-2009. During that period he also served as Acting Chief High Court Judge. He has been a Commercial List Judge from 1996-2009 and was Judge in charge of the Commercial List from 2004-2007. He chaired both the Standing Committee on Courthouse Design and the Criminal Practice Committee for the period 1999-2006, and has been seconded to the Court of Appeal for periods totalling over a year of service.

Prior to his appointment to the High Court, Justice Hugh Williams practised as a barrister and solicitor in Palmerston North until 1981, and then as a barrister sole.

He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1988 and practised as such up until his appointment as a Master of the High Court in 1989 but, after declining reappointment as a Master, returned to practice as a barrister in Auckland from 1993-1995. During his time in Palmerston North he was active as a member and President of the Manawatu District Law Society and served on a number of Committees of the New Zealand Law Society, including chairing the Courts and Tribunals Committee from 1986-1989.

Justice Williams served as a Palmerston North City Councillor from 1983-1989.

Justice Hugh Williams has also made a substantial contribution to tertiary education, including as a member of the Council of Massey University for some 25 years, where he served as Chancellor from 1991-1997.

Justice Hugh Williams continues in full-time service as a Judge of the High Court pursuant to an Acting Warrant. He also holds appointment as a Judge of the High Court of the Cook Islands and has sat in that jurisdiction.

In 2009 the Minister of Justice appointed Justice Hugh Williams President of the Electoral Commission, an office he still holds.

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