In Brief Issue #1000

Róisín Annesley QC
Senior Vice-President

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

Vicbar News & Events
Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards – nomination form and event details

Please consider nominating colleagues who made an outstanding contribution representing parties on a pro bono basis in 2019-2020 for the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards. 

The nomination form here contains more information about the Awards and categories. Nominations close Wednesday, 31 March 2021.

The Awards ceremony is on Wednesday, 5 May 2021 at the Commonwealth Law Courts. We are delighted to announce that the Honourable Chief Justice Will Alstergren will be guest of honour.

Open Justice Pilot Project launch

The Open Justice Project is a collaboration between Monash University and the Victorian Bar to provide Monash University law students with an opportunity to assist barristers working on pro bono matters. The Patron of the Project is the Honourable Chris Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal.

The Open Justice pilot project will be launched by the Victorian Bar and Monash University on Wednesday, 24 March. We encourage all barristers who work on pro bono matters to come to the launch in order to learn more about the Project, including to meet the students selected to take part.


Wednesday, 24 March 2021, 5–6:30 pm


Neil McPhee room, Level 1 ODCE.

Keynote Speakers:

  • The Hon. Chris Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal
  • Bryan Horrigan, Dean, Monash University Faculty of Law
  • Dr Laura Hilly, Victorian Bar (Chair)

Register here.

Victorian Law Week 2021 – Interested in hosting an event?

Law Week is scheduled for Monday, 17 May to Sunday, 23 May 2021.

The Victoria Law Foundation is now accepting proposals for events.

The Victorian Bar is a sponsor of Law Week and we are seeking members interested in hosting an event during Law Week.

If you have a great idea for an event that will improve the Victorian community’s understanding of the law or the legal system, let us know by emailing VicBar Office at

Colin Lovitt QC – Commemoration

Colin Lovitt QC was the driving force behind the Criminal Bar Association and the Essoign Club for many years. To celebrate and commemorate his contribution to both, the CBA and the Essoign Club Committee will jointly host a function at the Essoign Club from 5:00pm on 11 March 2021. All CBA members are encouraged to attend. Drinks will be available at bar prices and finger food will be provided.  

Please RSVP to Sally Flynn QC at

PHOTO 2021 Congo Tales at the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery

The Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery is proud to participate in PHOTO 2021, a biennial celebration of photography taking place throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria from Thursday, 18 February to Sunday, 7 March 2021. This year’s theme is Truth. Pieter Henket’s Congo Tales will be on display in the Gallery from Monday, 8 February 2021. Take a moment to admire these luminous works. You can read about the Congo Tales suite here.

Vicbar Life
The Essoign Club – Breakfast and a la carte lunch menus

Dear Essoign Club Members,

We are open daily from 7:00am till late.

Breakfast – See our Breakfast Menu here for dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch – Daily Café Menu takeaway or delivery.

Lunch dine-in – See our A La Carte Menu here for dining in.

Bar – Open till late with light snacks available.

Catering & Events – Special lunches, working lunches, private dinners or something special you may have in mind. Email us at

We appreciate your ongoing support and look forward to seeing you in the Club.

Practice & Profession News
Statement from the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Courts released a statement on Tuesday, 23 February 2021, regarding the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2020 and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020, which have passed and await Royal Assent.

The new Acts will create an amalgamated Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) with two Divisions: one which will include judges of the Family Court of Australia dealing with the most complex matters and exercising appellate jurisdiction, the other consisting of judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which will be the single point of entry for family law and child support cases.

The full statement is here.

Family Court of Australia – Lighthouse Project update

With the Lighthouse Project Pilot now well underway, the Court calls upon the profession to familiarise themselves with this important project and communicate the process and benefits with their clients. Please refer to the update and FAQs released by the Court here.

Supreme Court of Victoria – Closure of 436 Lonsdale Street

The Supreme Court was required to close its offices at 436 Lonsdale Street on Friday, 26 February 2021, after the building’s owner identified that essential fire safety work needed to be carried out. The issues identified did not pose a health risk to anyone who attended or worked at the building before Friday’s closure.

This work is likely to take at least six months.

The Supreme Court occupies six floors of the building, containing eight courtrooms used for commercial and common law matters, mediation rooms, registries, chambers, and administrative areas. 

The Court has put in place measures to minimise disruption to hearings and services. COVID-safe criminal jury trials are not affected.

For more information about new arrangements relating to registry appointments and daily lists, please click here.

Court COVID updates

Victorian Courts

For up-to-date information about the Courts’ responses, please visit their websites:

  • Federal Court of Australia – see here.
  • Family Court of Australia – see here.
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia – see here.
  • Supreme Court of Victoria – see here.
  • County Court of Victoria – see here.
  • Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – see here.

County Court of Victoria

Based on current health and safety advice and until further notice, from Monday, 1 March 2021, the mask setting for criminal jury trials in the County Court will be ‘Setting 2’. This means those in speaking roles (such as judges, counsel and witnesses) are not required to wear masks in courtrooms. All others are required to wear masks in courtrooms.

The full parameters of ‘setting 2’ are outlined in paragraphs 3.39—3.50 of Recommencement of Melbourne jury trials – guide for the profession and court users.

AIFS Research Project: Compliance with and Enforcement of Family Law Parenting Orders

The AIFS Family Law and Family Violence Research Team is currently undertaking the Compliance with and Enforcement of Family Law Parenting Orders Project.

An online Survey of Professionals for this project is now available. This survey is targeted at family law system professionals and aims to understand their experiences and views about the parenting order enforcement regime. Overall, this project will support a greater understanding of the following key issues:

  • The factors associated with compliance and non-compliance with parenting orders
  • The circumstances in which the contravention regime is applied and the patterns in court outcomes when it is applied
  • The extent to which penalties effectively reduce non-compliance and where there are ongoing concerns about family violence, whether they deter contraventions or inhibit parties in seeking court protection.

More information about the project is available here.

You are invited to take part in this survey if you are a legal professional (including judicial officers, barristers and solicitors) and non-legal professionals, including FDR practitioners and professionals working in post-separation support services, including parenting order programs and family violence sector professionals. The survey can be saved and resumed at any time.

Please click on the link below if you would like to take part in this important study, or if you would like more information on the research:  Compliance with and Enforcement of Family Law Parenting Orders: Information sheet for surveys of family law system professionals (

Legal Services Council – Annual Report

The Legal Services Council has released its Annual Report of the Legal Services Council and the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation, which is available here.

Reports from previous years are also available on the LSC website.

Legal Literate app

Migration Council Australia’s Legal Literate app is a free plain English glossary app containing more than 500 common legal terms used in Australian courts and tribunals.

The Legal Literate app aims to assist interpreters working in Australian courts and tribunals.

For more information, click here.

It is available for both Android and iOS.

Profession CPD & Events
Lenten Retreat for the Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’ Association

The Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’ Association invites members of the Bar to its half-day retreat on Sunday, 14 March 2021, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 91 Manning Road, Malvern East.

Fr Peter Fitzsimons, a legal academic who has also practised in commercial, corporate and competition law in NSW and New Zealand, is leading the retreat. 

The retreat program can be found at

Click here to book.

LAWASIA – Constitutional and rule of law webinar series (final seminar)

The series is jointly organised by LAWASIA, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Law Council of Australia, and the South Pacific Lawyers Association. Registration is complimentary, and LAWASIA members, friends and supporters are encouraged to attend the final webinar:

  • The Role of Law Associations in Promoting the Rule of Law (Law Council of Australia)is on Thursday, 11 March 2021 at 4:30–6:00pm AEST. Learn more and register here.

More information about the series is here.

Law Council of Australia webinar – Court innovation in the context of COVID-19

The Law Council of Australia is pleased to invite you to attend its online webinar – Courting innovation: Australia’s judicial system in the context of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 24 March 2021, 5–6:00pm via zoom.

The pandemic has forced all Australian courts and tribunals to innovate and adapt. This webinar will explore whether these measures have improved or impeded access to justice, and the extent to which these changes should remain in the long term.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, Law Council President.

Featuring eminent speakers:

  • The Hon William Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • The Hon Berna Collier, Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, and
  • Mr Mark Woods, Chair of the Law Council’s Access to Justice Committee.

Register for this free event here.

Careers & Opportunities
Applications sought for Heritage Council of Victoria membership

The Heritage Council of Victoria (‘the Council’) is an independent statutory authority, with advisory and regulatory functions, made up of ten (10) members and up to ten (10) alternate members from a range of specified, heritage-related disciplines. The Council is seeking applications from history and legal professionals who wish to serve on the Council. On this occasion, applications are sought for two vacancies:

  • A person with recognised skills or expertise in heritage law, planning law or property law to be a member of the Heritage Council of Victoria, and
  • A person with recognised skills or expertise in history to be an alternate member of the Heritage Council of Victoria.

These appointments will commence in July 2021 and will be for a three-year term.

Members are expected to attend meetings of the Council. Alternate members are expected to attend if the member is absent or unavailable or by agreement in some cases. Members and alternate members are also expected to participate in one or more of the Council’s Committees, including sitting on registration and permit review hearing committees. It is estimated that the role would require the equivalent of 2–3 weeks of full-time work over the course of a year.

Applications can be made via and, in both cases through the Vacancies tab. Candidates are required to complete standard application forms online, including a declaration of interests, and will be required to provide a current CV. Women, people with a disability, young persons and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Applications must be received by 5:00pm, Friday, 12 March 2021. 

Further information about the recruitment process is available upon request from the Council’s Secretariat on (03) 8508 1656 or

In Brief Submissions

If you would like to contribute relevant news, events and updates for barristers and the legal profession to In Brief, please send an email with your content to or complete this submission form.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 11th March 2021