In Brief Issue #1012

Christopher Blanden QC

Bar Dinner

Last Friday night’s Bar Dinner was not only the biggest ever held, with 573 attendees and a waiting list, but one of the most successful.

We were delighted to welcome the Attorney-General, Hon. Jaclyn Symes; Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Chair of Courts Council, the Honourable Anne Ferguson; and innumerable judges from all jurisdictions among our guests. The Bar had its own list of 83 members who we celebrated as honoured guests. We were particularly grateful to Senator the Hon. Amanda Stoker and Justice Simon Steward for agreeing to speak. 

The format seemed to find favour, with formalities kept to a minimum. Chief organiser Róisín Annesley QC and I have received many comments extolling the night as entertaining, inclusive and fun for all who attended. Photographs of the event may be viewed by members here. You must be logged into the website to view this page.

Bar Subscriptions

The Bar Council is pleased to have made Wednesday’s announcement of a general fee rebate of $250 on the subscriptions members paid for the 2020-2021 financial year (with an additional rebate for those practising predominately in criminal law). This is in line with our view that we should be reducing costs for members where possible.

Members can look forward to some more good news next week when the subscription rates for the 2021-2022 year are announced. 

New Agreement with the Law Library of Victoria

The Victorian Bar has secured ongoing access to a full digital collection of resources at the Richard Griffith Library by renewing a service agreement with the Law Library of Victoria. Members continue to have 24/7 access from terminals in the Richard Griffith Library to the same digital research databases available to the Supreme Court Library and the judiciary. A barrister recently reflected on the digital library at the Bar as… A much more efficient way to approach the task than the way I had in mind.

The Law Library advises that the Supreme Court Library will be temporarily closed during the current COVID-19 restrictions and that all services can be accessed via the Richard Griffith Library or

COVID-19 Restrictions

As members were advised yesterday, the State of Victoria has entered a new circuit breaker lockdown period for one week. Inevitably, this will lead to some disruption of court services, but I ask members to be patient for what will hopefully be a short period.

My discussions yesterday with Chief Justice Ferguson indicated that the Courts will substantially adopt the same approach as in the last lockdown. I would ask members to note that for logistical reasons, the Courts’ measures will continue throughout next week, with the intention to lift those measures on Monday, 7 June 2021.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Practising Certificates - renew your PII insurance before 31 May

LSB online is now live for the renewal of your PC. Members must renew before 30 June to continue to practise on 1 July. Members who renew after this date may incur a late renewal surcharge from the LSB+C.

The LPLC portal is now open for the renewal of your PII. The LPLC requires payment of the PII premium by Monday31 May 2021 and members are encouraged to renew online on the LPLC website.

Information on renewing practising certificates can be found on the VicBar website here.

Links for online lodgement, which can be found on the above webpage, will be available from the LSB+C and LPLC live dates, or you may go directly to LSB Online and the LPLC website.

Login to LSB Online and the LPLC renewal portal using your Practitioner Number as the username (your Practitioner Number will be included in the email sent to you by the VLSB+C or you can contact the Bar office for assistance). LSB Online deals with all PC administrative matters and there is no printed PC renewal form.

Once you have completed the renewal process, you will receive an email from the LSB to confirm that your PC has been issued. You will then be able to download it via LSB Online.

If you experience technical difficulties with LSB online, please contact the VLSB+C via their new lawyer enquiry form in the first instance. In addition, answers to frequently asked questions and LSB online user guides can be found here.

Should you require assistance renewing your PC, the Victorian Bar office can help you and members who need assistance should email or contact Daphne Ioannidis on (03) 9225 8326 or Susan Lawrence on (03) 9225 7105.

Appointments - Supreme Court of Victoria and Children's Court of Victoria

To the Supreme Court of Victoria

The Executive Council has appointed two members of the Bar to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Mr Stephen O’Meara QC has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, effective 18 May 2021.

Mr Richard Attiwill QC has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, effective 18 May 2021.


To the Children’s Court of Victoria

The Executive Council has appointed the first-ever judicial registrars of the Children’s Court.

Ms Judith Benson has been appointed a judicial registrar of the Children’s Court, effective 25 May 2021.

Seminar – Pathways to financial security for women barristers

As the end of the financial year is approaching, now is a good time to understand how you can take advantage of many Government incentives to reduce tax and build towards a comfortable retirement. The Women Barristers Bar Association, the Bar's Equality and Diversity Committee and legalsuper invite all members to a lunchtime learning seminar that will explore:

  • How super contributions can:
    • reduce your tax
    • help you save towards your first home, and
    • build your retirement nest egg.
  • How much is enough to fund a comfortable retirement?
  • What investment strategy is most suitable for you?
  • Practical considerations when preparing for career breaks or when approaching retirement.

The seminar is on Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 12-1:00pm.

For more information, please see the legalsuper flyer here.

To register, click here.

Light refreshments and sandwiches will be provided.

This event is proudly supported by legalsuper – the profit for members superannuation fund has supported the legal community for over 30 years.

National Reconciliation Week 27 May - 3 June 2021

The Indigenous Justice Committee encourages members of the Bar, their staff and families to take the opportunity during National Reconciliation Week to learn, reflect and acknowledge the significance of Reconciliation today. The theme this year is “More than a word, Reconciliation takes action.” Two legal milestones bookend the week – 27 May 1967, the date of the successful 1967 Referendum, and 3 June 1992, the day the High Court of Australia delivered its judgment in Mabo (No. 2).

The CPD offered by the IJC to address Reconciliation in action will take place at a later date, due to the availability of the speakers. Details will be advertised as soon as practicable.

The IJC recommends the following external events occurring during NRW:
Virtual—legal issues:
Melbourne University: Treaty, More than a word
Sydney, Level 22 Barristers Chambers: Law and the Uluru Statement from the Heart
In person with family members
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait language learning for both young and old (click here to view the 50 words project).

Anne Sheehan and Tim Goodwin
Co-Chairs Indigenous Justice Committee

Victorian Bar member CPD and events

Due to COVID restrictions announced by the Victorian Government on Thursday, the format of the Bar's CPDs and events are subject to change.

For up-to-date information on upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings here.

Vicbar Life
The Essoign Club – takeaway and delivery

Dear Essoign Members,

The Essoign Club will continue to be open from 7am and will operate as a TAKEAWAY and DELIVERY as per the current restrictions that have been put in place until further notice.

On offer we will have coffee, juices, soft drinks, salads and sandwiches along with daily specials and take away beer or wine.

A daily menu will continue to be sent to our members.

We would like to thank you for your support as always.

Practice & Profession News
Commonwealth and Victorian Courts' COVID updates - Circuit breaker lockdown

Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

In light of these restrictions, it is important to reiterate that the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) are essential service providers, and the Courts will remain open to continue to provide access to justice in a timely and responsive way, whilst balancing this against the public health directions and necessary restrictions to protect our staff and our community.

The Courts remain open by conducting most trials and other hearings electronically via telephone or Microsoft Teams for the next seven days. This notification is to advise the legal profession and all court users that face-to-face hearings in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries (for the next seven days) will continue only if expressly authorised by the Chief Justice or presiding Judge, and only in exceptional circumstances. If matters cannot proceed electronically and must proceed face-to-face, the Courts will ensure that only the minimum necessary participants are to attend the registry or are present in the courtroom and other social distancing and other requirements are adhered to.

Chief Justice Alstergren has previously raised the expectation that during these exceptional times, parties should cooperate and ensure that the best interests of the child are addressed by complying with court orders. If strict adherence to parenting orders is not possible, it is imperative that any revised arrangements reflect the spirit of the orders.

The Courts have previously issued information in relation to parenting issues that may be of assistance:

  • National COVID-19 List – National court list dedicated to dealing exclusively with urgent family law disputes that have arisen as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Border restrictions and parenting orders – Guidance in relation to border restrictions and shared parenting, and
  • Parenting orders - Statement from Chief Justice, the Hon Will Alstergren.

Further information is available from the Courts’ websites here and here.

Victorian Courts

Victoria will enter a seven-day circuit breaker lockdown for seven days from 11:59pm Thursday, 27 May to 11:59pm Thursday, 3 June 2021.

This means there will be five reasons to leave home: Food and supplies; Authorised work; Care and caregiving; Exercise, for up to two hours and with one other person, and Getting vaccinated. For more information on how restrictions will apply to Victorians, please click here.

On Thursday, 27 May 2021, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Chair of Courts Council, Anne Ferguson, issued an update on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT:

  • In accordance with the public health advice, matters will be held in person only where it is not practicable for them to be held remotely and it is essential that they proceed.
  • The courts and VCAT will continue to hear as many matters as possible remotely. Some matters may be adjourned for a period of time.
  • Criminal jury trials which are already underway will continue, following COVID-safe plans, although a few may be adjourned. No new criminal jury trials will begin until restrictions ease. Every effort will be made to re-list any vacated trials as soon as possible.

For the full statement, please click here.

Supreme Court of Victoria

In accordance with public health advice during the 7 Day Circuit Breaker Restrictions, physical attendance for hearings in the Supreme Court will be limited to essential matters that cannot proceed remotely.

The arrangements under the Notice to the Profession issued on 17 May 2021 are suspended for this period.

Please see Judicial Support Contacts to contact the chambers of the presiding judicial officer regarding the arrangements in individual matters or contact Registry on 8600 2000.

COVID-Safety measures are in place across all buildings for any onsite attendances that are authorised. Public entrances will be open. QR recording systems remain in place at each building’s security screening area.

Face masks are required to be worn in all Supreme Court of Victoria (SCV) buildings, as well as outside, subject to the exemptions. Masks can be provided at the security screening point if required.

The Supreme Court Registry and Probate Office remain operational. Please telephone the Registry Services team or the Probate Office to discuss alternatives to in-person attendance or to make an appointment if attendance is essential. The Registry Services team and Probate Office can be contacted on 8600 2000. 

If you are subject to a requirement to isolate, feel unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, do not attend at Court and notify the Registry by calling the Prothonotary on 03 8600 2023 or emailing

County Court of Victoria

Commercial Division

The Commercial Division of the County Court has published a response to the “circuit breaker lockdown’” restrictions here. Until such restrictions are eased, the arrangements outlined in the document available at the below will apply to matters in the Commercial Division.

Onsite attendance and criminal jury trials

Those criminal jury trials underway may continue at Melbourne and on Circuit, subject to the views of the judge and the parties.  Self-evidently, there is a strong public interest in those trials proceeding to verdict, where possible.   The Court deems the continuation of any jury trial which has begun as essential.  

Criminal jury trials which were due to be empaneled tomorrow, 28 May 2021, or next week will not be able to proceed. Every effort will be made to relist these trials as soon as possible. The Court will be in contact with the parties soon in relation to these re-listings. 

Onsite attendance and criminal judge alone trials

There are a few judge alone trials which are midstream. Given their equivalence with jury trials, the interests of justice demand that they proceed to conclusion as efficiently as possible.  By their nature, the Court considers the completion of such trials as essential to the administration of justice. Where onsite attendance is needed for the efficient completion of these trials, the Court would authorise it.

Onsite attendance and other non-jury trial work

Save for work considered essential to the administration of justice, all other non-trial jury work will have to be conducted, if possible, completely offsite.  That means that all matters are to be conducted remotely.  If the matter cannot be effectively conducted remotely, then the matter will be adjourned.

Onsite attendance will only be approved where there are compelling reasons why the case must go ahead over the next week, and where a remote hearing is not practicable.   


This is a Statewide lockdown.  

The above considerations apply equally to all criminal circuit work – jury and non-jury work.

Mask wearing

Mask wearing is at Setting 2 for cases which are conducted onsite, namely those in a speaking role, including counsel, are not required to wear a mask, but all other participants and other court users (including jurors) must wear a mask.  The Setting 2 will extend to all circuit matters.

Letters of authority

The profession should obtain any letter of authority to attend onsite at Court from their respective organisations, should this be required.  

An accused’s bail papers will suffice to attend onsite at Court.  


The approach outlined above is based upon a 7-day lockdown. 

Should the lockdown continue, then the Court’s approach will be reviewed.

Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Please find attached Practice Direction X of 2021 that commenced operation at 11:59pm on Thursday, 27 May 2021.  

The purpose of this Practice Direction is to outline arrangements that will apply during the circuit breaker lockdown as directed by the Chief Health Officer on Thursday, 27 May 2021.  It applies statewide, to all venues of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, until 11:59pm on Thursday, 3 June 2021.

The Practice Direction is intended to reduce the need for physical attendances at Court by maximising the use of remote hearings. It provides, where possible, for the listing of all matters remotely via the Online Magistrates’ Court or on WebEx, rather than at a physical court venue.

It confirms that all physical attendances at court venues are to be by prior arrangement with the Court – except in the case of urgent family violence interim applications and first remand hearings, where they are unable to proceed remotely.

Specific directions are provided with respect to first remand/bail hearings, in custody matters, summary hearings, committal mentions, family violence applications, Personal Safety Intervention Order applications, VOCAT and urgent civil applications.

Court 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.
High Court of Australia Oral History Podcast

The High Court of Australia building in Canberra is listed on the World Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of the building, the Court commissioned an oral history podcast. The podcast was launched by the Chief Justice on Wednesday, 19 May 2021.

The podcast focuses on the construction phase of the High Court building. There are four parts:

                Part 1 – The Vision

                Part 2 – The Debate

                Part 3 – The Artistry and

                Part 4 – The Vibe.

The podcast is available here.

Law Library – Digital Bar Library

Reinforce your argument with authoritative legal resources available to you 24/7 at the Richard Griffith Library and the Digital Bar Library.

Collections are curated by law librarians who can also assist you with case research, database selection and research strategies.

Find out more at

Profession CPD & Events
Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association Webinar

The Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association is hosting a presentation by the Honourable Justice Emilios Kyrou entitled "Pitfalls of Lawyers communicating with the media". The presentation will be conducted online via Webex on Wednesday, 2 June 2021 from 6:00pm.

Justice Kyrou will canvass the risks to lawyers when communicating with the media, including:

  •     Breach of confidence
  •     Breach of professional conduct rules
  •     Contempt of court
  •     Waiver of privilege, and
  •     Misleading or deceptive conduct.

Justice Kyrou is a Judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria, and was appointed to that position in July 2014 after serving as a trial Judge since May 2008.

In Conversation with Jon Faine

Join the first interview of the In Conversation with Jon Faine series with special guest, The Honourable Justice Virginia Bell AC, on Thursday, 22 June at 5:45pm. You can register to attend in person at Monash University Law Chambers or to receive the livestream details.

In Conversation with Jon Faine deep-dives into the minds of some of Australia’s major movers and shakers as they explore some of the biggest legal, economic and social issues of our time. Join the first interview in the series as Jon Faine interviews trailblazer, The Honourable Justice Virginia Bell AC.

Virginia Bell has always been a trailblazer. From the early days of Redfern Legal Centre, to the Sydney Bar, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in NSW and then the High Court, Virginia Bell has not smashed glass ceilings so much as ignored them. Her reputation as a jurist is matched by her wit. This is a conversation sure to enlighten as well as entertain.

Administrative Law on the Edge - AIAL National Conference 2021

The Conference invites discussion and debate on the many-faceted 'edges' of administrative law. It seeks to examine a number of themes and contemporary challenges in administrative law, including the nature of any 'boundary lines' of administrative law, the scope to challenge automated 'decision-making'.

The current state of judicial review, the scope to challenge the exercise of non-statutory executive power and whether the performance of government functions that are 'outsourced' is outside administrative law bounds.

Thursday, 22 July 2021 & Friday, 23 July 2021
RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Conference Dinner - 6:15pm for 7:00pm start, Thurs 22 July 2021 | Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, Melbourne

All enquiries should be directed to: AIAL National Secretariat by phone on 02 6290 1505 or email at

Register here.

Careers & Opportunities
Employment opportunity - Digital Project Manager

The Judicial College has an exciting opportunity for a Digital Project Manager, Website Transformation (VPS5).

  • Do you have extensive experience in managing IT projects in sensitive and complex environments?
  • Are you a skilled communicator with the proven ability to translate technical concepts into plain language?
  • Do you have a keen eye for detail and understand the importance of brand, content design and a consistent visual identity?

Apply now or contact the College for further information.

2021 William Ah Ket Scholarship launches

The Asian Australian Lawyers Association, together with Maddocks, as a founding sponsor, and the University of Melbourne Law School, as a supporting partner, is pleased to announce the William Ah Ket Scholarship essay competition for 2021.  The scholarship – named after Australia’s first barrister of Chinese background and a former member of the Victorian Bar – is open to all final year law students, law graduates undertaking practical legal training and young lawyers with no more than five years’ post-admission experience.

For further information, please click here.

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 31 August 2021 and this time limit is strictly observed, as the Rules Governing the Annual Essay Prize make clear.

Those Rules can be accessed on the Academy’s website:

Refer to the Academy’s website also for further information about the actual submission of an entry as well as information on previous winners.

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, 3rd June 2021