In Brief Issue #1020

Christopher Blanden QC

Members will be disappointed that the latest COVID-19 lockdown has again forced the postponement of several Bar functions. The good news is that we managed in-person welcomes for Their Honours Judge Sharon Burchell and Judge Anna Robertson of the County Court of Victoria between lockdowns.

The dinner to celebrate the career of the Honourable Geoffrey Nettle AC QC has had to be postponed again. The dinner will probably now be held early next year and we will advise the new date when available.

The signing and dinner for the September 2020 Readers has had to be postponed from next Tuesday, 27 July. It is hoped we can reschedule to August as this is the third postponement of this important event.

All levels of the Bar are affected – the bows before the High Court of Australia for the 2020 Silks, which had been postponed from February to Monday, 2 August, has again been cancelled. We are awaiting word from the Australian Bar Association as to future arrangements.

The Bar Council’s strategy day scheduled for Saturday, 24 July, has also been cancelled.

This week the Bar held a CPD session on the Bar Benevolent Fund, which is available to provide financial assistance to members who are in financial difficulty. It too had to be delivered online. Assistance is available in any needy circumstances, which include hardship brought on by:

  • Illness and consequential financial impact on the barrister and their family
  • Adverse business conditions resulting in a significant decrease in barrister income, e.g. pandemic
  • Adverse financial events resulting in cash flow challenges e.g. failed investments or inability to enter a transaction due to adverse credit ratings due to the above
  • Divorce or partner separation
  • Family illness resulting in a need for time out of practice or medical costs, and
  • Ineligibility for government assistance, but still requiring financial assistance due to an impact on income. 

If you have any ideas about how the fund could better assist members or would like more information about making an application, you can contact the Bar’s Finance and Membership Manager, Mark Bryant, via email.

In response to the extension of the lockdown, we provided an update to assist members in managing their work over the next week in compliance with the Chief Health Officer’s directions. The update is available here.

Finally, to any members who have been forced into quarantine due to attending a sporting event or other Tier 1 exposure site, our best wishes for a speedy release.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Reminder: Voting for the 2020–2021 Bar Council by-election

Voting for the Bar Council by-election takes place through a secure online portal.

Members eligible to vote received an email on Wednesday, 21 July 2021, which included the link to the voting portal.

Instructions on how to vote are here.

Voting closes at 5:00pm, Wednesday 28 July 2021.

A message to the Victorian Bar from the Health and Wellbeing Committee

Once again, we find ourselves in lockdown. Understandably, our members may be experiencing an increase in professional, financial, and personal pressures. There may be an increase in stress for those working from home, perhaps caring for young children, other family members or assisting students with remote learning, may be experiencing feelings of isolation or simply dealing with the increased challenges that carrying on our practice in our home environment can bring.  

On behalf of the Bar’s Health and Wellbeing Committee, I wanted to remind you of some of the important resources available in this difficult period.

First, the Health and Wellbeing portal,, contains useful information, resources and coping strategies concerning several issues relevant to us. The portal will be regularly updated and will be made more accessible via the VicBar website. Members are also reminded of an excellent array of CPDs that have been organised by the Committee this year and have been recorded, which may be of assistance. 

Secondly, the Victorian Bar provides up to five free, entirely confidential counselling sessions to all barristers and their immediate families. I want to stress that seeking help is normal and sensible, and all members should not hesitate to reach out if they need assistance. The services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are two alternatives on this front:

  • Bernadette Healy and her associates at Re-Vision Group.  Bernadette has many years of experience as a psychologist dealing with Bar members. Call 03 9650 5540.
  • Converge International is another independent crisis and counselling service delivered by qualified psychologists and counsellors. 1300 687 327.  

Finally, I encourage you all to check in with each other and particularly to reach out to anyone who you feel might be struggling.  Importantly, being honest about your own feelings and experiences during this period may help those friends and colleagues to realise that they are not alone.  

Sally Flynn QC

Chair, Health and Wellbeing Committee

Subscriptions for the 2021- 2022 Financial Year are now due

Thank you to those members who have already paid their subscriptions. Subscriptions for the 2021-2022 Financial Year are due for members, and to make payment of your subscription, please click here. If you have any questions relating to your subscription, please contact membership or call on 9225 8326.

Equitable briefing policy reporting 2020-2021

The 2020-2021 financial year has recently ended, and annual reports of Briefing Entities who have adopted the Law Council’s Equitable Briefing Policy are due by 30 September 2021.

If you have adopted the policy as counsel, please provide your annual report for the 2020-2021 financial year using the portal.

To assist you with reporting, the Equitable Briefing Policy Reporting Template and Guidelines provides detailed information on how to make a report and includes a reporting template to show the required information.

Barristers who have adopted the policy have committed to providing a confidential annual report to the Law Council of Australia. The Law Council will subsequently collate data provided in the annual reports and produce a final report of figures for publication. All data published in the final report will be aggregated and de-identified to maintain the confidentiality of individual Briefing Entities.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to submit your report.

Student Engagement Committee - shadowing program

The VicBar Student Engagement Committee (SEC) is looking at organising high school and tertiary student work experience (shadowing) again in the latter part of 2021 or early 2022.

The purpose of the shadowing program is to give students a first-hand perspective of what barristers do in their day-to-day work. The program focuses on including students from diverse backgrounds and circumstances.

It is proposed that a student or students be allocated to a chamber's floor (where interest has been indicated) for one week, rather than allocating students to a single barrister. This is intended to provide greater flexibility to barristers and greater opportunities for students.

Chambers floors that have indicated interest will be noted by the SEC and approached closer to when shadowing is arranged.

If there are a number of barristers on your floor who are interested in participating, please send an email indicating interest in participating in the shadowing program and identifying: (a) your chambers floor, and (b) interested barristers from the floor, to:

BCL updates

Why take chambers with BCL

Click here for information on BCL chambers and why you should consider taking up chambers with BCL.

Technology services & support for the Bar: Security options available to protect your practice

BCL is now offering free cybersecurity training for all barristers with an email. Each month barristers will receive material and assessments to improve their security awareness, with certificates issued upon completion of each module. To register, click here.

BCL Staying COVIDSafe

Please refer to Staying COVIDSafe at BCL for all information, communications, helpful links to COVID safe plans, restrictions as they happen and what we all need to do.

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.

  • Redress for children and young people abused in state care is on Tuesday, 27 July, 5-6:00pm. In this seminar, Jane McCullough, Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon, will outline the various redress options available to young people who have suffered abuse whilst in state care and empower practitioners with strategies and tools to provide timely advice and appropriate referrals. This is an online-only event. Click here to register.
  • Taxation treaties and domestic law is on Thursday, 29 July, 5:15-6:15pm. In this session chaired by Lord Hodge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, hosted by the Australian Bar Association and members of the Australian and United Kingdom Bars, the speakers will discuss the growing body of jurisprudence in Australia and the UK concerning the complex interaction of domestic law, statutory fictions, and international treaties. This is an online-only event. Click here to register.

For more upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings here.

Vicbar Life
Studio 11 - cCORDA exhibition

STUDIO 11 – Always worth a Look! Level 11, Owen Dixon Chamber East. Come on down when you can. The cCORDA exhibition featuring 75 collaborative works by Michelangelo Russo and Jennifer Jabu is now installed for your viewing pleasure. If you love beautiful things, colour, texture, shape and groove, you will get a return on your investment. Three-dimensional works, framed and stand-alone, in various colours and sizes with prices ranging from $250 - $4000 are available for sale, with all proceeds going directly to the artists. The body of work and each piece is accomplished, complex, evocative and generous. Works sheets (with lots of Italian references) and statements are available on Level 11 East. For enquiries, contact

The Essoign Club

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.

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.

See you soon.

Practice & Profession News
Commonwealth and Victorian Courts' COVID updates

The Victorian Government has announced an extension to the statewide lockdown until midnight Tuesday, 27 July 2021 inclusive.

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

The existing operational arrangements in place will continue until further notice. That is, the only work that can continue with any onsite attendance at the Court is that which is deemed essential to the administration of justice.

This means the following for the Court:

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 that were due to be empanelled between Tuesday, 20 July 2021 and Tuesday, 27 July 2021 inclusive will not proceed. Every effort will be made to relist these trials over the coming weeks. The Court will be in contact with the parties soon in relation to these re-listings. 

Criminal judge alone trials

A trial by judge alone, which is midstream, will continue. Given its equivalence with jury trials, the interests of justice demand that it proceeds to a 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 a trial by judge alone, the Court would authorise it.

Other non-jury trial work

Save for work considered essential to the administration of justice, all other non-trial jury work in all Divisions will have to be conducted, if at all, completely offsite. This means that all matters are to be conducted remotely.  

A case will only be considered essential where is it essential that it be heard during the lockdown. There must be compelling reasons why the case must go ahead during the lockdown period and where it must involve onsite attendance.  

Parties with matters listed during the lockdown period should contact the presiding judge's chambers in the event of any uncertainty.   


This is a Statewide lockdown.  

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

Mask wearing

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

Commercial Division

In response to the restrictions announced on 15 July 2021, and until such restrictions are eased, the arrangements set out in the document available here will apply to matters in the Commercial Division of the County Court.

Review of Judicial Impartiality – Survey of Practitioners

At the request of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), the Law Council encourages members to complete this survey, developed by the ALRC as part of its Review of Judicial Impartiality.

The survey will be open until 11:59pm on Friday, 6 August 2021 and is available here.

ABA National Brief - July 2021

In this month’s National Brief, President of the ABA, Matthew Howard SC, responds to the continued disruption of the pandemic on the administration of justice and updates members of the national Bar on the activities of the ABA, including preparations for the ABA 2021 National Conference. The National Brief is here.

Updated online sentencing statistics for over 250 offences in the higher courts

The Council has released new sentencing data for the higher courts (County and Supreme Courts) on SACStat, the Council’s online statistical database. The new data covers sentencing outcomes in the five years to 30 June 2020 for over 250 offences dealt with in the higher courts.

An offence requires a minimum of 10 sentenced charges over the five-year reference period to be included in SACStat’s higher courts data. SACStat also presents data for over 500 offences sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court in the three years to 30 June 2019.

Sentencing Summary Reports for Magistrates’ and Higher Courts

SACStat includes short narrative reports summarising sentencing outcomes for all offences displayed in the Magistrates’ Court and many offences displayed in the higher courts. The summaries can be printed and are easily accessible on smartphones and tablets.

SACStat User Guide

The Sentencing Advisory Council has also published a two-page user guide with handy hints on using SACStat, and a summary of the counting rules for the data. More detailed resources can be found on the SACStat website: ‘About SACStat’, ‘How to Use SACStat', 'Technical Notes' and 'Glossary'.

SACStat can be accessed free of charge from the Council's website.

Please feel free to contact us at if you have any queries.

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
ABA 2021 National Conference

Registrations are now open for Re-emerge. The Australian Bar after COVID-19:  Energised, Innovative Enduring

16-18 September 2021. State Library of Victoria and fully live-streamed.

For more information and to register, visit

Major Sponsor: The Australian Financial Review

International Bar Association - upcoming webinars

A complete list of upcoming IBA events can be found on its events diary page.

For details on how to become a sponsor, please email

Certificates of attendance for the above sessions will be provided to all IBA members who have registered in advance and attended the live broadcast for a minimum of 30 minutes; please make enquiries at

LAWASIA committee webinar month series - July and August 2021

LAWASIA is excited to announce that the registrations for the LAWASIA Committee Webinar Month Series are open!

LAWASIA's committees offer a comprehensive and practical work program targeting the needs of legal practitioners and their professional organisations. The webinar series will allow you to broaden your knowledge and understanding while exploring topics including When RCEP Meets the Belt And Road InitiativeEnforcement of Bilateral Investment Treaty ArbitrationNew Impulses in Tax Law and UNCITRAL: Enhanced Asset Tracing and Recovery in the Digital Age.

Registration is complimentary for all LAWASIA Members. If you are not a LAWASIA member, we invite you to join or renew your membership today and avail of the free webinars!

To learn more and register, please click here.

Australian Academy of Law – Emerging scholars: contemporary issues in crime and criminology

The Australian Academy of Law will be hosting a free event, Emerging scholars: contemporary issues in crime and criminology from Perth, in person and online on Wednesday, 28 July 2021.

Click here for more information and to register.

Voltaire Human Rights Award fundraiser

Liberty Victoria is holding its annual Voltaire Human Rights Award fundraiser as an online webinar on Thursday, 29 July 2021 at 7:00pm. The recipients of the awards are the Children of Tanya Day (Voltaire Human Rights Award), Mohamed Semra (Young Voltaire Human Rights Award) and all refugees and asylum seekers in detention (Empty Chair Award - being accepted by Craig Foster AM and Mostafar Azimitibar). There will be a live Q&A with the recipients and you can register here. There is also a wine fundraiser to help raise money for Liberty Victoria.

Diversity Council Australia – upcoming events

The Victorian Bar is a member of the Diversity Council Australia (DCA).

DCA is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It provides unique research, inspiring events and programs, curated resources and expert advice across all diversity dimensions to a community of member organisations.

As members of the Bar, you have exclusive access to DCA’s resources and events. Upcoming events are listed here.

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

If you are already a member of DCA, you can log in to register for webinars here.

Careers & Opportunities
2022 John Koowarta Scholarship round

The Law Council would like to inform the Constituent Bodies that applications for the 2022 John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship (Koowarta Scholarship) are now open.

Applications close COB Friday, 3 September 2021.

The Eligibility Criteria for the Koowarta Scholarship is attached with this memo and is also available online. Scholarships will be awarded on the recommendation of an Advisory Committee appointed by the Law Council of Australia. The successful applicant will receive a scholarship to the value of up to $5,500 for the 2022 academic year or, on a pro-rata basis, an offer for periods of part-time study.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Council by email at

Click here for the application form.

Law Council of Australia Tom Yuncken Young Construction Lawyer Award 2021

The Construction and Infrastructure Committee of the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia has been conducting the Tom Yuncken Young Construction Lawyer Award since 2008. The Award was established in memory of Allens Arthur Robinson, partner and construction lawyer, Tom Yuncken, a former Chair of the Victorian Committee.

The Award was initially offered to Victorian lawyers, but since 2018 has become a national award.

The Business Law Section (BLS) offers the Award, sponsored by the Society of Construction Law Australia (SCLA).

Thanks to the generous support of the BLS & SCLA, the winner of the 2021 Award will receive $2,500, and the finalist/s will be assisted to attend the Society’s Conference in Hobart in October 2021. For more information, visit

The flyer and entry form may be found 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 below.

The Prize is open to anyone, wherever resident, who is studying or has studied legal subjects at a tertiary level or 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 submitting an essay is 31 August 2021 and this time limit is strictly observed, as the Rules Governing the Annual Essay Award 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, 29th July 2021