This is the 1000th edition of In Brief! The first edition was issued to members on 1 December 1992 – I include it here for your interest. Whilst the format and the manner of delivery have changed, the purpose of In Brief remains the same. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the issues raised in the 1st edition – independence of the judiciary, funding for legal aid, Chambers accommodation and conduct issues – are still current. Notable is the author's prediction of 'court-ordered mediation at a level not previously seen'!
I extend a warm welcome to the 48 Readers who started the Readers' Course this week. The March 2021 Readers add to the Bar's diverse cultural makeup with Readers from Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, India, and the United Kingdom. Languages other than English spoken include French, German, Greek, Hindi, Spanish, and Mandarin. Of the 28 male and 20 female readers, the youngest is 25 and the eldest 41.
Mindful of Covid concerns, the March 2021 Readers' Course will be a hybrid of in-person and online delivery. I thank the Readers' Course Committee and the Bar Office staff for their hard work in preparation for the start of the course, which runs over the next nine weeks, with successful Readers due to sign the Bar Roll on Thursday, 6 May 2021.
This week, Bar President, Christopher Blanden QC, attended a meeting with the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, and the Chief Crown Prosecutor, Brendan Kissane QC, to discuss matters of mutual interest, including fees to barristers and the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants to the extent that there is overlap with the Victorian Bar.
Nominations for the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards are now open. I encourage members to nominate barristers who made an outstanding contribution representing parties on a pro bono basis during 2019-2020. Nominations are open until Wednesday, 31 March 2021, and the ceremony will be held in the Commonwealth Law Courts on Wednesday, 5 May 2021. More information about the awards is here.
Applications closed this week for the position of Executive Director of the Victorian Bar. Interviews with short-listed applicants will be conducted next week.
The Covid-delayed 2020 Common Law Bar Association dinner was held at the Essoign Club last night. The dinner was very well attended, including many judges of the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria. The dinner was a great occasion to celebrate the achievements of those members who have retired, the elevation of the new common law silks, and fondly remember the great stalwart of the Common Law Bar Association, Richard Stanley QC.
The President has taken the opportunity to enjoy an extra-long Moomba weekend. I wish safe travels for those of you who are travelling within Victoria or elsewhere this weekend.
Róisín Annesley QC