The rich history of what began in 1991 as the Employment Contracts looseleaf and is now the Employment Law looseleaf/electronic database was recently celebrated.
Thomson Reuters hosted a 20-year anniversary lunch in Wellington for the authors Phil Bartlett (from Bartlett Law), Bill Hodge (University of Auckland), Phillipa Muir (Simpson Grierson), Justice Kit Toogood and Ross Wilson. This distinguished team is effectively unchanged from that which began work on Employment Contracts in late 1990 (Bill joined the fray a little later than the others). Also attending was guest Kathy Drysdale (from the Department of Labour), the original publishing editor of Employment Contracts.
Tributes were paid to the late JRP (Jack) Horn, Chief Judge of the Arbitration and Labour Courts, who was the consulting editor of Employment Contracts until his death in 1999.
The occasion was marked by fine food, speeches and conversation, together with a strong commitment to the future of Employment Law. As the current publishing editor I would like to sincerely thank the authors, Kathy, the caterers and all Thomson Reuters staff involved for such an enjoyable celebration of this milestone.
Snippets from the first 20 years
From Local to Global: The History of Brookers 1910–2010 (by Geoff Adlam):
“The radical changes to employment law made by the Employment Contracts Act 1991 provided an excellent opportunity for Brooker’s to move into the important area of employment law information. Former Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, Jack Horn, headed the team of authors assembled. … the four other authors brought different focal points and experience, with some having experience of advocacy for employers and others for employees. The new product used the formula established by McGechan on Procedure of reproducing the legislation followed by history notes, a synopsis, cross references, and practical commentary on applications of the legislation. The task of managing the author team, cajoling them to meet deadlines, editing and providing them with resources was handled by Brookers legal editor Kathy Drysdale. Employment Contracts (initially known as Horn on Employment Contracts) was published in a distinctive purple looseleaf binder, and also became known as ‘the purple book’. Sales of the product were dramatic on its release, probably creating a record for subscriptions sold in the first month of a new looseleaf.”
From the foreword to Employment Contracts (by TG Goddard, then Chief Judge of the Labour Court):
“The authors are, in their different ways, eminent in the field of their specialty. Chief Judge J R P Horn, my colleague, I hope I may also call him my friend, needs no introduction from me … I want to salute not only his contribution to this book but also his work as an outstanding judicial officer, particularly in the difficult field of employer/employee relationships in which the role of the Court is not always well understood or the nature of its jurisdiction widely appreciated.”
“The other members of the team of authors have already accomplished much but also have, I feel sure, many laurels still ahead of them. All have practised before the Labour Court where they have shown themselves to be able and dedicated advocates. Philip Bartlett has continued the tradition of his firm’s expertise in public sector employment law, which, despite all efforts of legislators and Judges, manages to keep its own flavour (some would say best before 1 April 1988!). Phillipa Muir is a partner in a large national firm after a baptism no doubt of fire working as a staff solicitor in small firm well known for its founder’s expertise in employment law, as well as in other areas. Kit Toogood is now a barrister sole after two decades of practice as a member of Wellington firms. Last, but only by a cruel trick of the architects of our alphabet, is Ross Wilson. He is best known as National Secretary-Treasurer of the New Zealand Harbour Workers Union; he is also Deputy Chairman of the Accident Compensation Corporation, a director of Port of Wellington Ltd, and a former member of ACOSH, the government Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health; and he is also a qualified solicitor who practised for some years in Wellington before becoming a union official.”
“About the book itself. The authors have performed a Herculean task in producing it within weeks of the enactment of the Employment Contracts Act 1991, a measure which had a relatively short gestation period and, during it, underwent substantial and fundamental amendments. Their achievement is heroic also in identifying and dealing within that time frame with some novel statutory solutions not free, on occasion, from conceptual and constitutional difficulty and destined to be the subject of great contention. But first and foremost the book strikes me as a practical and useful one.”
From the authors’ preface to Employment Law:
“An intensive, concentrated team effort, by all five authors, mutually supported by a ‘buddy’ system, has gone into producing a comprehensive commentary on the Employment Relations Act 2000, with particular emphasis on the changing objectives and novel procedures introduced by the new Act. It remains, we trust, up to the high standards established by Employment Contracts (the ‘purple book’) and its commentary on the Employment Contracts Act 1991.”
“The ‘purple book’ was also referred to as ‘Horn’ after the late J R P (Jack) Horn, the former Chief Judge of the Labour Court. Jack was a consulting editor for the purple book and the authors would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution he made up until his death in 1999.”
“The authors’ effort has been complemented and supported, pushed and pulled, and sometimes hectored, by the dedicated publishing team at Brooker’s …”
“Unlike the standard hard-bound treatise, this work is not immutably set in concrete. While the updating service is the chief advantage to subscribers, it means, of course, that the authors’ work is only beginning. We look forward to filling in the details and to fine tuning the commentary. We also look forward to some surprising developments in the months and years to come, in the Employment Court, the Court of Appeal, and Parliament. Subscribers will, of course, be kept informed.”
“In the spirit of the Act, we are happy to present this work in good faith, and in trust and confidence.”