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John Miller gives the law fraternity a good name

Tim Pankhurst – Managing Editor of the Dominion Post (2002)

ACC, Mental Health and Criminal Law specialist, John Miller, has always been an advocate of “working in any area of law that helps human beings,” but he was particularly attracted to accident compensation work because of his father, who sustained serious brain injuries after a rogue stone was thrown into the train he was driving.

My father’s injuries blighted his life early on and he felt the weight of the loss of his job and the privilege it carried. I could empathise with his struggles and I suppose I’ve always empathised with injured people and their families.


Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, John left school at 16 to work for the Admiralty; but restless and keen to see the world, he decided at age 17 to ship to New Zealand to work for the Government for two years.

He planned to return to Scotland to study at Leith Nautical College, but after meeting his future wife, writer and former nurse Stephanie de Montalk, they moved to the Hawkes Bay where John became a social worker for Social Security and Child Welfare.

“I had come across lawyers as a social worker in the Children’s Court and I saw that I could probably be more effective and do more for people as a lawyer. “


He worked full time in various legal jobs while studying law full time at Victoria University and upon graduating, he was appointed a lecturer and set up his sole practice.

With some significant and groundbreaking successes under his belt, John was awarded a Millennium Human Rights Award for assisting the seriously injured, voted the Dominion Post Wellingtonian of the Year and made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2006, Victoria University of Wellington dedicated an annual John Miller Community Service Award for law students demonstrating an outstanding contribution to the community.

“There are so many heart-breaking cases. It’s a harrowing business but the mantra of our firm is that there’s always an argument to raise if you want to try and help the people who come through our doors.”

This article (in part) was also published in LawTalk 870, 31 July 2015,.


Notable wins include:

  • New Zealand’s largest civil settlement of $228 million for backdated payments to families of seriously injured claimants to whom ACC has refused to pay full 24-hour care.
  • Significant lump sum compensation for work related asbestos victims instead of smaller weekly payments.
  • Winning payments for 278 incapacitated pensioners who lost their entitlements when age limits were lowered.
  • Winning ACC cover for a mother and son who contracted HIV from their father following an infected blood transfusion.

JML has represented tens of thousands of clients who have been injured in New Zealand. We are well known for our effective results in resolving ACC disputes. Our egalitarian philosophy inspires a different kind of interaction with our clients to help them achieve their full compensatory entitlements.

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