Acting Crown Solicitor named: A “next generation prosecutor”

by Sophie Schroder05 Nov 2014
Law firm Meredith Connell has welcomed a decision by Solicitor-General Mike Heron QC to appoint Brian Dickey acting Crown Solicitor for the Auckland region.

Dickey has nearly a quarter-century’s experience as a Crown prosecutor, including 20 years at Meredith Connell, and is currently the firm’s director of litigation. 

He prosecuted his first criminal case before the High Court in Rotorua in 1991 aged 23, and has since appeared before the courts on nearly 1,000 matters, including prominent murder and rape trials. 

He most recently came to public attention during his successful prosecutions of a large number of cases resulting from the 2006-2008 finance sector collapse, most prominently the directors of the Bridgecorp finance companies.

The chair of Meredith Connell, Anna Adams, told NZ Lawyer that the firm is delighted with Dickey’s appointment.

“It’s significant, and it’s an appointment that we celebrate, because Brian is one of the next generation prosecutors that follows [Justice] Simon Moore QC. It’s a very positive event for the firm,” she says.

Former Auckland Crown Solicitor Simon Moore QC, now Justice Moore after being appointed a High Court Judge in February, was Dickey’s mentor, and previously told Metro magazine that Dickey has a “rare brilliance” as a prosecutor.

Meredith Connell chair Adams says the firm will be “strongly backing” the permanent appointment of Dickey as Auckland Crown Solicitor next year.

“He’s a real leader in the firm. He has devoted his career to crown prosecution and civil litigation, and has been very successful in those roles,” she says. “He’s also been a mentor and encourager of a whole generation of lawyers [here].”

Adams connects Dickey’s appointment as acting Crown Solicitor with the law firm’s recent spate of appointments, which saw it take on board eight new partners, three new principals and a special counsel.
The average age of the partners promoted was 36, she says.

“They are the group of the next generation of prosecutors and litigators, and he’s mentored them…he’s a veteran prosecutor.”

Dickey says that with the exception of a brief stint working for a criminal defence firm in London, his career has been dedicated to criminal prosecution and broader public interest-litigation.

“I am flattered to accept this appointment, which is the pinnacle of my professional career to date,” he says.

He recently spoke to NZ Lawyer in relation to Meredith Connell’s confirmation that it would be vying to keep Auckland’s Crown Warrant, which came up for tender after Justice Moore retired to go to the High Court bench.

At the time, Attorney-General Hon. Christopher Finlayson QC announced the warrant will be split into two Crown Solicitors for the Auckland region: Auckland and Manukau.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Attorney-General has decided to split the warrant, says Dickey.

“It’s been anticipated for some time…given the growth of the city over the years,” he says.

Although Meredith Connell will definitely be tendering for the Auckland warrant, it’s not yet been decided whether it will also vie for the Manukau warrant.

Until now, the two have been combined, and the Manukau section represents about 40% of the overall warrant work, or about 12% of the firm’s total revenue.

“This year our projected growth is 16%,” says Dickey. “[Not having that warrant] won’t have a massive impact on us, we would still grow.”

Meredith Connell has held the Auckland Crown Solicitor’s warrant since 1922, and Dickey likens it to New Zealand’s most established PPP.

And although the firm’s commercial practice is growing at a rate of knots, crown prosecution still represents 30% of its total business, and it’s committed to continuing that.

Dickey says Meredith Connell is never over-confident during the tender process.

“If we’re confident it’s because we know we have really great people and fantastic talent in the firm… [We have] a commitment to doing it and a track record,” he says.