In Brief Issue #1002

Christopher Blanden QC

I have received correspondence from members regarding last week’s In Brief message, including correspondence that members may have seen in media reports. I am grateful to those who have written to me for taking the time to express their views and concerns. I always welcome feedback from members. I will provide a considered response to the authors of that correspondence shortly. 

In the meantime, I would urge members to complete the Digital Courts Survey, a link to which can be found in the notices under ‘News & Events’.

There has also been correspondence (and media reports) in relation to our membership of the Law Council of Australia. This is a more complicated issue with a long history. It is my intention to give members a special update on the position with regard to our membership next week.

I would like to thank the Victorian Bar Pro Bono and Student Engagement Committees for collaborating with Monash University to create the Open Justice Project, which provides Monash University law students with an opportunity to assist members working on pro bono matters. An event launching the Project will be held on Wednesday, 24 March. I encourage all barristers who provide pro bono assistance to attend the launch to learn more about the Project, including to meet the students selected to take part. The Patron of the Project, the Honourable Chris Maxwell AC, President of the Court of Appeal, will be giving a keynote speech. You can register here.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Memorial service for His Honour John Nixon

It is with deep regret that we inform members of the passing of His Honour John King Nixon, who died on Thursday, 11 March 2021, at the age of 85 years.

The Memorial Service for Judge John King Nixon will be webcast live on Monday, 22 March 2021 at 2:00pm. To access the webcast, visit His Honour’s tribute page here.

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 the Honourable Chief Justice Will Alstergren will be guest of honour.

Indigenous Justice Committee – Mentoring Program 2021

The Indigenous Justice Committee of the Victorian Bar invites Indigenous-identifying law students and law graduates to apply for its 2021 Mentoring Program.

The Mentoring Program matches successful applicants with two mentors (a barrister member of the Bar, and a judicial officer). The Mentoring Program has been running for some years now and the feedback has been positive. It is not meant to be onerous or intimidating, rather an opportunity for members of our communities to link in with members of the Bar and the Judiciary in a way that suits the mentees. The aim is to assist mentees on their journey as legal professionals and provide those professional introductions and contacts that can prove beneficial as they progress with their chosen pathways. The application form can be found here

Should members of the Bar or judicial officers wish to add their names to the pool of mentors, please email the Mentoring Program Coordinator

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.

  • 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.
  • Ethics update for family law barristers is on Tuesday, 23 March 2021, 5:15-6:15pm. In this session, there will be a discussion on some common ethical questions family law barristers encounter in everyday practice. This event is online only. Click here to register.
  • The Open Justice Pilot Project launch is on Wednesday, 24 March, 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. All barristers who work on pro bono matters are encouraged to attend to learn more about the Project, including to meet the students selected to take part. This is an in-person event. Register here.
  • Ethical obligations of parties and counsel involved in AAT proceedings is on Thursday, 25 March 2021, 6-7:00pm. This session will examine the ethical obligations of Counsel representing the Commissioner of Taxation in AAT proceedings and of the Commissioner himself in those proceedings, where the Commissioner’s employees instruct Counsel. This is an in-person event. Click here to register.
  • Ethical issues facing new barristers is on Tuesday, 30 March 2021, 5-6:00pm. In this session, the New Barristers’ Committee is hosting an informal ‘Chatham House Rules’ discussion for new barristers to ask questions about ethical issues that they are facing or have faced in practice. This event is online only. Click here to register.
  • The New Environment Protection Act – Update and focus on the Victorian environmental duty is on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, 5:15-6:15pm. In this session, there will be a brief overview of the changes, consideration of transitional provisions, and a discussion of the introduction of a new environmental duty. This event is online only. Click here to register.

For more upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings 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.

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. This year’s theme is Truth. Pieter Henket’s Congo Tales will be on display in the Gallery 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 four-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
Federal Circuit Court of Australia – judicial appointment

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Christopher John Bowrey, a family law solicitor in Townsville, as a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the Townsville Registry, commencing Monday, 22 March 2021.

The Media Release is here.

Supreme Court of Victoria 2019-20 Annual Report

The Supreme Court of Victoria’s 2019-20 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on Thursday, 18 March 2021.

The Honourable Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Chief Executive Officer Matt Hall PSM thanked everyone who worked so quickly and with goodwill during 2019-20.

In their joint Foreword, the Chief Justice and CEO wrote: “We would never have wished for change in the way it arrived in 2019-20. But in responding through necessity we have accelerated longer-term projects to continue to modernise the Court and honed our focus on the needs of our Court users.”

The Annual Report is available to read here.

Commonwealth and Victorian Courts' COVID updates

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.
Australian Bar Association National Brief #2 – 16 March 2021

It is one hundred years since Edith Cowan was elected to the WA Parliament, becoming only the second woman in the common law world (and the first in Australia) to do so. In the second of the ABA’s national communications, President Matthew Howard SC writes about some of the events of the past month that are likely to change our profession and our country.

Read more here.

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

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
Monash University event - Google/Fitbit merger

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.

LAWASIA webinar – State measures to save business during the pandemic in Asia and Europe

LAWASIA’s webinar State measures to save business during the pandemic in Asia and Europe is on Wednesday, 25 March 2021, 10-12:00pm.

According to experts, the global gross domestic product will increase by only 0.1% instead of the previously expected 2.6%. World trade is estimated to decline by 1.7% from 2020 to 2021.

Governments are striving to prevent entering a downward spiral due to collapsing companies, job losses and panic in the financial sector. Massive support measures are therefore taken in every country for the economy and affected companies.

This webinar aims to give an overview of government measures in the UK, Malaysia, Germany, and China. Experts from all four countries will speak about support in employment law, special regulations under insolvency law and financial state support for companies.

Registration is complimentary, and all LAWASIA members, friends and supporters are encouraged to attend.

Learn more and register here.

Diversity Council Australia – news and events

This week, workplaces throughout Australia will be celebrating Harmony Week to acknowledge the contributions of multicultural communities by hosting events and activities with global food, music, and traditional dress.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, one in four of Australia’s 25 million people were born overseas; 46% have at least one parent who was born overseas, and nearly 20% of Australians speak a language other than English at home.

Migrants and refugees regularly experience racism, but not in the same way as others. Their experiences are often shaped by when they came to Australia and from where they come.

DCA’s latest e-newsletter explains its work in eliminating racial discrimination, which is available to read here.

To view access DCA’s resources or webinars, you’ll need to be a member of Diversity Council Australia. To become a member, please register here and we will forward you the login instructions. You will need to use your VicBar email address.

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 Prize amount 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.

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, 24th March 2021