In Brief Issue #1013

Christopher Blanden QC

To say the least, it is disappointing to be writing this edition of In Brief in what is now the middle of another lockdown. Hopefully, the extension will have the desired effect and allow us to return to relative normality shortly. Several Bar functions have had to be postponed and we will advise of new dates as soon as possible.

William Ah Ket Scholarship

As a result of the lockdown, Wednesday night’s launch of the William Ah Ket Scholarship for 2021 became an online event, rather than an in-person affair. The launch was introduced by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Honourable Anne Ferguson. The scholarship is, of course, named in honour of William Ah Ket who joined the Bar in 1904 (Bar Roll #88) becoming the first Chinese barrister to practise in Melbourne and probably Australia. Its aim is to encourage persons at a junior stage of their legal career in Australia to contribute to the discourse on diversity and inclusion in the law and legal profession.

Bar Subscriptions

The Bar Council was delighted to approve the significant fee discounts members have received on their annual subscription fees. The result is that all members will pay subscriptions that are less for the 2021-2022 year than they were in 2019-2020, the last pre-COVID year.

May I also thank all those members who generously donated their rebate on this year’s subscriptions to the Barristers’ Benevolent Fund and remind everyone that this most worthwhile organisation is always needing additional donations.

CPD Program

Throughout the current lockdown, the Victorian Bar's CPD program will continue in an online format and provides excellent opportunities for members to earn CPD points on a range of legal and practice management topics. Each time a member accesses an online CPD session on the Victorian Bar website, this information is captured by the relevant technology and assists the CPD audit committee in assessing member compliance with the CPD rules.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Practising Certificates - renew before 30 June

Members must renew their PC 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 deadline for renewing your PII premium was 31 May 2021 and if you have not already done so, please renew online here.

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 Mark Bryant on (03) 9225 7105.

Applications for Senior Counsel 2021

The Supreme Court announced that applications for Senior Counsel for 2021 opened at 9:00am on Thursday, 27 May 2021 and will close at 5:00pm on Friday, 18 June 2021.

Information for members considering applying for silk includes:

If you have any questions about the application process, including how to fill in your application form or if you would like to have a confidential discussion about making an application, please send an email to

Appointments – Magistrates' Court Judicial Registrars

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria announced the appointment of:

Mr Michael Gurvich

Ms Allison Vaughan

as Judicial Registrars. Their appointment was effective from Tuesday, 4 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 Association, the Bar's Equality and Diversity Committee and legalsuper invite all members to an online 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 will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 12-1:00pm.

For more information, please see the legalsuper flyer here.

To register, click here.

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

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.

  • International Bar Association – results of survey into mental health in the legal profession is on Tuesday, 8 June, 5:15-6:15pm. In this seminar, the results of the recently conducted survey by IBA into mental health of legal practitioners will be presented together with some reflections on how to improve lawyer wellbeing. This is an online only event. Click here to register.
  • If it wasn’t already tricky enough – business valuation in 2021 is on Thursday, 10 June, 5:15-6:15pm. This seminar will discuss business valuation in 2021. This session will not be recorded and is an online only event for members only. Click here to register.

For more 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 7:00am 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 takeaway 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

The Victorian Government has announced the lockdown for greater Melbourne has been extended, with some small changes, until 11:59pm Thursday, 10 June.

Different lockdown rules apply to greater Melbourne and regional Victoria – for more information on how restrictions will apply to Victorians, please click here.

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. 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

The Supreme Court of Victoria has published a joint jurisdictional statement from the Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, on behalf of the Victorian Courts and VCAT. The statement is in response to the recent extension of circuit breaker restrictions in Melbourne, and the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria, and is available 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 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

Melbourne jury trials

New Melbourne criminal jury trials listed to commence between Friday, 4 June 2021 and Thursday, 10 June 2021 will not commence.

Parties in these trials will be contacted by the Court regarding a new listing date. The Court will make every effort to offer new trial dates during the Third Term this year. 

The Court will consider resuming new jury trials at Melbourne listed from Friday, 11 June 2021, subject to the easing of restrictions and health and safety advice. The manner of resumption will be dependent on any health and safety limitations at the time.

Those criminal jury trials which commenced before Thursday, 27 May 2021, and which are still underway, will continue to proceed to conclusion with the current trial arrangements and procedures in place, unless otherwise advised. 

Melbourne judge alone trials

Judge alone trials that commenced before Thursday, 27 May 2021, and have continued, will continue to proceed to conclusion with the current trial arrangements and procedures in place, unless otherwise advised.

Melbourne non-jury trial work

Non-jury work will continue to be conducted, if possible, with practitioners, parties and other court users all participating remotely, subject to the determination of the presiding judge.

Onsite attendance by parties will only be approved by the presiding judge where remote participation is not practicable. These decisions will be guided by what is necessary rather than by what is convenient or preferable.

Criminal circuits (jury trials and non-jury trial work)

Criminal circuits, including jury trials and non-jury work, will recommence at Ballarat, Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Warrnambool, Shepparton and Wodonga on Monday, 7 June 2021.

The current empanelment and trial procedures for circuits will remain in place unless otherwise advised.

Mask wearing at Melbourne and Circuits

Mask Setting 2 will be in place at Melbourne and on Circuits for all work.  That is, mask wearing is required by all trial and hearing participants in a non-speaking role including jurors (save for particular points in time for callover, excuses and the striking of the jury during the empanelment process). Those in a speaking role (judges, counsel and witnesses) will not be required to wear a mask.

See the County Court notice below for more information about the Criminal Division update on the Appeals List and Zoom Registrations. 

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.
Family Court of Australia – Lighthouse Project update

Following the successful launch of the Lighthouse Project in the Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta registries, the Court issues a monthly newsletter which aims to assist, inform and provide updates to the profession about the Project.

The May 2021 edition (available here and on the website here) provides an overview of the Project’s progress, early data and observations. It highlights how Family Dispute Resolution offered by the Court was able to recently assist and support a client of the Lighthouse Project and their family.  Further, this newsletter touches on the amendments made to Practice Direction 3 of 2020 – Lighthouse Project and Evatt List.

We would also welcome any feedback or questions you have on the Project and they can be sent to these emails – or

Criminal Division update - Appeals List and Zoom registrations

On Monday, 31 May 2021 the County Court of Victoria issued the following update for the Criminal Division:


Commencing in June 2021, there will be an Appeals List for conviction appeals that will sit at 9:00am on the first two Fridays of each month.

New conviction appeals will have their appeal first listing in this List.

The List will be presided over by a judicial registrar or a judge.


Practitioners are reminded that they must register their appearance as counsel / instructing solicitor or accused in any of the following lists at least two days prior to the hearing. 

•  9:00am General Crime List

•  9:00am Sexual Offences List

•  9:30am Circuit List

•  9:00am Appeal List

Failure to register your appearance by 4:00pm the day prior to the hearing could result in a non-appearance being recorded or the matter being called at the end of the List.

Instructing solicitors can register for their client or counsel if they have the full name, email address and phone number of counsel or the accused.

A remote hearing notification form is not required for any of the 9:00am or 9:30am List Courts.

Once the registration has been received and approved, the link to attend the Zoom webinar hearing will be emailed to the attendee for use on the morning of the hearing.

For all other criminal virtual hearings and eHearings, including the 10.30am General Crime List and 10.30am Sexual Offences List, a remote hearing notification form must be filed.

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

LAWASIA Monthly e-Newsletter May 2021

LAWASIA’s monthly e-newsletter with news, updates and events is available to read here.

Profession CPD & Events
Save the Date - 2021 Australian Bar Association National Conference

In a full program over three days, Re-emerge 2021 will bring together leaders from the judiciary, the Bar, the profession, politics and the media, from across Australia and internationally, to discuss topics.


The Australian Bar after COVID19: Energised, Innovative, Enduring

Melbourne, 16-18 September 2021

Read more here.

How to run an AAT Visa Cancellation Matter

How to run an AAT Visa Cancellation Matter is on Friday, 11 June, 2:00-4:00pm. This seminar will discuss the development of advocacy skills and knowledge of the merits review system as it relates to the General Division of the AAT and visa cancellation matters. This is an online only event. For details and registration please click here.

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 Tuesday, 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.

2021 Conference - Resilience and Reinvention - Supporting Organisation Members

This premier two-day conference is the first face-to-face event in the region’s ADR calendar. Supported by global institutes, government, industry associations, and sponsors, the program comprises 27 specialist sessions and six plenaries, bringing together over 90 key influencers and stakeholders from business, government, judiciary, commercial and academia, addressing developments and emerging trends across a wide range of sectors.

Victorian Bar members can attend at the Resolution Institute member discount rate. Early Bird closes on 13 June.

Careers & Opportunities
Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee (Geelong panel) - Lawyer member vacancy

Deakin University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (DUHREC) reviews research projects involving human participants, from biomedical procedures to classroom learning studies.

The role of the Committee is to make sure that the rights of participants are respected and that no human research is approved unless it meets stringent requirements of integrity, justice and fairness.

We currently have a vacancy on the Geelong Panel of DUHREC for a voluntary lawyer member (where possible, someone who does not currently provide legal advice to Deakin).

We seek members who preferably live or work locally, with a variety of life experience, not specific skills or a research background.

Members attend meetings approx. every 2 months for approx. 2-4 hours, generally on a Monday afternoon, with some pre-meeting preparation required and activities outside of the meeting cycle.

Please see this document for more information about the position and how to submit an expression of interest

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, 10th June 2021