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Duncan Bamfield - Celebrating 70 years of Holmden Horrocks

Aug. 2020

Duncan joined Holmden Horrocks as a student at 19 years of age. After some 70 years, he has now retired from practice to focus on the joys of retirement, his wife Vivienne, and his five children and 14 grandchildren.

He is a regular weekly visitor to the office to keep in touch and exchange views on issues of the day and stories about those many interesting and zany episodes that he experienced during his time as a lawyer.

The latest anecdote he told was of an incident in Turkey.

"I took a leave of absence from the firm in 1959 and traveled overseas. To return to New Zealand from England, six Kiwi boys got together and planned to travel overland in two vehicles, on a journey that was to take three months.

In December, the six Kiwi lads, including me, were arrested on the border between Turkey and Syria, on charges of illegally exchanging Turkish currency into Syrian currency. None of us could produce receipts to show that we had exchanged the money at the official rate through the proper channels. I tried to explain to the Turkish authorities that all of us had exchanged the monies at the official rate "at the Park Hotel in Ankara" but that I had neglected to keep the receipts. The language barrier didn't help, nor did the kiwi accent… so perhaps it wasn't surprising that we were arrested notwithstanding my eloquence!

On the night of our arrest, we were kept in a Court holding room, awaiting trial the next day. We shared the room with a young American student, also up on the same currency irregularities. Fortunately, the American could speak French, which was a common language in the area, and he acted as our interpreter before the court the next morning.

Each of us Kiwis shared the same story – we had all exchanged our monies at the Park Hotel in Ankara and failed to keep receipts.

The trial judge was a local citizen and it was agreed that I speak first, and the American would translate into French, a language which the Judge understood. It was obvious from the start that the Judge did not believe my account of events, but he pricked up his ears when I told him I was doing a study of the area by the Supreme Court of New Zealand and was on a survey of legal procedures in the Middle East. He asked to see my passport (a copy is shown on the right!), which confirmed my profession. The Judge was duly impressed with my legal standing and the charge was dismissed!

Each of the other Kiwi boys took the stand in turn and they reiterated my story. It having been believed by the Judge, they too were acquitted. I don't know what happened to the American youth who interpreted – the last we saw of him he was being sent to the city of Mersin for trial.

Anyway, we were all released that morning, and as we stood by our vehicles, the Judge walked along on his way home. He inspected our vehicles, and we gave him a can of Nescafe for the trouble he had been put to!"

Written by Julia Holden (Litigation Junior) and Duncan Bamfield (Retired Partner)