In Brief Issue #1001

Christopher Blanden QC

First, may I thank Senior Vice President Róisín Annesley QC for taking on the authorship of In Brief for its landmark 1000th edition last week. Reading the original edition illustrates that some issues are perennial, such as fees and Chambers accommodation. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Bar is now a very different place from 1992, the discussion about mutual recognition being a case in point.

Earlier this week, the legal profession welcomed Her Honour Judge Sarah Leighfield to the County Court of Victoria. Ruth Shann delivered the welcome on behalf of the Bar and Ruth’s address may be read here.

Last week’s Common Law Bar dinner caused me to reflect on the current restrictions, which either prevent or limit a return to in-court hearings. The Heads of Jurisdiction are limited in their capacity to re-open the courts by restrictions placed on them by social distancing requirements. It seems incongruous that people can now dine in restaurants and pubs, attend social and sporting functions and return to work, but the courts are unable to operate other than at significantly reduced capacity. Waiting lists are growing and it’s hard to see how this problem will be dealt with, even in part, until the courts re-open in full. Discontent is only amplified by the fact that interstate courts seem to have continued to operate largely unaffected by the Covid crisis. Perhaps the importance of our court system to good government in this state has been, and is, under-appreciated?

Several weeks ago, I mentioned the importance of barristers accepting the opportunity, if offered, of physically appearing in court. As a profession, we can hardly expect the judiciary to make efforts to return to in-court hearings if we are not similarly prepared to make that effort. I have recently been made aware of a matter where an invitation was extended to the barristers to physically appear in court, but was rejected on no real basis other than convenience. To say the least, this is disappointing. Likewise, I have had reports that some counsel tend to treat online hearings more like an informal chat than a formal court proceeding. A side effect of wearing shorts and thongs under the robes, perhaps?

On a more positive note, the first civil jury in Victoria for 12 months commenced this week in the County Court of Victoria. Let’s hope it is the first of many.

Christopher Blanden 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 2021. 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.

Digital courts survey for Bar members

Bar Council is seeking feedback from Bar members about the use of digital technologies during the past year. This will be used as a basis for forward-planning and specifically to respond to questions posed by the Federal Court of Australia, which is considering how it will utilise digital technology in the future for the conduct of its business.

Please complete the survey by Thursday, 25 March 2021.

The survey is here.

Victorian Bar member CPD and events

The following are highlights of upcoming CPD and events for Victorian Bar members. You must be a member of the Victorian Bar and logged into the VicBar website to view these events.

  • Arbitration and VCAS – information for junior barristers is on Tuesday, 16 March 2021, 5:156:15pm. What is arbitration?  What is VCAS?  How can I develop a practice in arbitration?  Why should I?  These questions – and more – will be answered at this CPD aimed at members of the junior bar. This is an in-person event. Click here to register.
  • Lawyers Mediation Certificate Course 2021 Barristers wishing to become an accredited mediator under the National Mediator Accreditation System can register for the Lawyers Mediation Certificate (LMC) six-day course here. Register before Friday, 19 March 2021, for a $300 discount!
  • The Open Justice Pilot Project launch is on Wednesday, 24 March 2021, 5–6:30pm. The Project is a collaboration between Monash University and the Bar to provide Monash University law students with an opportunity to assist barristers working on pro bono matters. We encourage all barristers who work on pro bono matters to come to the launch to learn more about the Project, including to meet the students selected to take part. This is an in-person event. Register here.
  • Dispute Resolution Events in the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia: What every practitioner needs to know is on Thursday, 8 April 2021, 5:156:15pm. In this session, the Courts’ Executive Director of Dispute Resolution, Senior Registrar Anne-Marie Rice, will provide an overview of family dispute resolution events and other court-based ADR events and provide tips on what to expect and how best to prepare. This event is online only. Click here to register.

For more upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings 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

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.

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, and we have arranged an extension until Friday, 26 March 2021. Take a moment to admire these luminous works. You can read about the Congo Tales suite here.

New Studio 11 exhibition – bronze sculptures by Beatrice Magalotti and linocut prints by Aileen Brown

Bronze Sculptures by Beatrice Magalotti and Linocut Prints by Aileen Brown are now installed for your viewing pleasure. The accomplished one-off bronze works, 20 in total, including The Arrival and The Three Fates, touch on themes of migration, Greek mythology, the passage of time and connection. The whimsical, detailed limited edition Lino prints 51 in all, feature landscape, still life, our Australian wildlife with some cheeky pieces too, like Next Dance - The Fox Trot and Have Some! As always, everyone is welcome to come and view the works and pick up a worksheet at their leisure at Level 11, Owen Dixon Chambers East. All works are for sale directly from the artists. For Artists’ Statements, please click here.

Studio 11 would like to thank Beatrice and Aileen for sharing their works with us during this time. The exhibition is well worth a look and runs from Monday, 8 March until Friday, 9 April 2021. Don’t delay – time flies.

VicBar French Conversation Club - calling all francophones (Take 2)

Sadly, 2020 did not pan out as expected and plans to start a VicBar French Conversation Club were put on hold. Now that we can meet in person again, expressions of interest are sought from members wanting to practise their French over some Brie and Beaujolais. If this is you, please email Hadi Mazloum by clicking here (even if you already did so last year).

BottledSnail’s Choram seeking two singers

BottledSnail’s contemporary vocal group, Choram, is preparing for a performance on Friday, 9 April 2021. We are seeking two additional singers to join us. Reading music is not a requirement, however you do need to be able to hold a part as the songs are in 4-part harmony. There will be 3-4 rehearsals prior to the performance, probably on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. If you are interested in being involved, please email Kylie Weston-Scheuber at

Practice & Profession News
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 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.

Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia remind family law practitioners and clients that the criteria for the highly successful national COVID-19 list has recently been expanded, to provide for a broader range of circumstances. For more information, click 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.

Notice of Termination – Manager appointed to Thexton Lawyers Pty Ltd

On Thursday, 27 August 2020, the Victorian Bar was advised that Mr Nick Curran had been appointed by the Victorian Legal Services Board as the Manager to Thexton Lawyers Pty Ltd.

Please be advised that the appointment of Mr Curran as Manager terminated on Wednesday, 24 February 2021.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Reshma Pickering on 03 9679 8048 or email

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, and
  • 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 (

Did you know that your Law Library offers free CPD courses for Barristers?

Click here if you need that one extra CPD point or just a refresher.

Start your online training on Legislation and Case Law, hassle-free and at your convenience.

The Law Library website has everything that you need for your legal research, all in one place. It's easy to find that article, legislation, legal reference or judgment.

The Law Library of Victoria: a truly digital library service.

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.

Monash University – upcoming events

Monash University event - The Google/Fitbit Merger: Where Do We Stand?

The European Commission and the U.S. DOJ have approved the controversial Google/Fitbit merger based on a static, conventional view, according to which only limited issues arise from a merger of complements. In this online seminar on Tuesday, 30 March 2021, join Associate Professor Zhijun Chen of Monash Business School's Department of Economics, who will discuss if Google's acquisition of Fitbit is approved, what does this mean for personal data and consumers? Register here.

Monash Law's Future Court Seminar Series

The Monash Law Future Court Seminar Series features a range of thought-provoking discussions focusing on the future of court systems and how international jurisdictions have responded to the need to incorporate technology into their justice systems. These sessions may be credited towards your CPD requirements. Upcoming webinars are:

  • Virtual Hearings – Lessons from Abroad: United States of America
    In this webinar on Wednesday, 17 March 2021, Professor Fredric I. Lederer from William & Mary Law School, USA, provides insight into virtual courtrooms and hearing rooms in the United States of America. Register here.
  • Virtual Hearings – Lessons from Abroad: United Kingdom
    In this webinar on Wednesday, 17 March 2021, Professor Meredith Rossner from Australian National University will discuss virtual hearings from user experiences and feeling our way through best practice. Register here.
  • Virtual Hearings – Lessons from 2020
    This webinar on Thursday, 18 March 2021, will discuss the practical aspects of conducting virtual court hearings to offer the participants some guidance as to how advocates can improve their skills and performance at virtual hearings. Register 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
Australian Academy of Law Annual Essay Prize 2021

The Australian Academy of Law is pleased to announce the offering of its Annual Essay Prize for 2021.

This year, eligibility to submit an essay is broadened by reverting to the original entry rules as below.

The Prize is open to anyone, wherever resident, who is studying or has studied legal subjects at a tertiary level, or who is working or has worked in a law-based occupation. There is no limit by reference to the age or seniority or experience of, or position held by, a person who may submit an entry. Accordingly, judicial officers, legal practitioners, legal academics and law students are all eligible to submit an essay.

The amount of the Prize is $10,000.

The essay topic for the Prize in 2021 is as follows:

  • “Outstanding fundamental issues for First Nations Peoples in Australia: what can lawyers contribute to the current debates and their resolution? Note: 'Outstanding fundamental issues' may include, but are not limited to, constitutional recognition, treaty or bijuralism.”

The deadline for the submission of an essay is Tuesday, 31 August 2021 and this time limit is strictly observed, as the  Rules Governing the Annual Essay Prize make clear.

Please find attached the Essay Cover Page with further instructions on how to submit an essay.

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, 18th March 2021