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Former Chief Justice (Tony) Ford QSO passes away

Wellington, New Zealand

Former Chief Justice Anthony David (Tony) Ford QSO with his wife Valda, pictured at the Royal Palace, Nuku'alofa, 31 July 2008.

Tonga's former Chief Justice Anthony David (Tony) Ford QSO passed away on January 31, in Wellington, New Zealand, where his funeral will be held on Monday.

Justice Ford QSO was a New Zealand lawyer and jurist. He served as a judge of the Employment Court of New Zealand and Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga.

He was born in Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island in 1942, and educated at St Bede's College in Christchurch and the University of Auckland. (Wikipedia). Between 1963 and 1967, he worked in the legal section of the Department of Maori Affairs in Auckland. In 1970, he was admitted to the bar in Auckland and in July the same year he joined the law firm Bell Gully in Wellington, where he was a partner in Bell Gully between 1974 and 2000.

In July 2000, Ford was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Tonga. From 2005 to 2007, he also served as a judge on the Fijian Court of Appeal.

In September 2006, Ford was appointed Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga and President of the Tonga Court of Appeal. In those capacities he carried out significant reforms of the Kingdom’s judicial system and in June 2008 he received international recognition for his work when he was invited to travel to New York to be presented with the World Bank’s Reformer of the Year award on behalf of the Tongan judiciary. In November 2007, Ford was Convenor of the 17th Biennial Pacific Judicial Conference in Nuku’alofa which was attended by over 50 judges from around the Pacific, including 21 chief justices.

In August 2008, Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Queen Salote by the King of Tonga, George Tupou V. On 25 March 2010, Ford was appointed to the position of judge of the Employment Court of New Zealand, although he did not take up that position until the expiration of his Tongan contract in September 2010.

In the 2015 New Year Honours, Ford was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order, for services to Tonga and the judiciary.

Ford was married to Valda and they had seven children. A funeral notice in the Dominion Post said a service to celebrate Tony's life will be held at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, 17 Boulcott St, Wellington Central on Monday 10 February 2020 at 1.30pm.

See also:
Departing CJ stresses importance of having an independent judiciary | Matangitonga
Tonga Law Society clashes with government over independence of judiciary | Matangitonga