Family Property List Mediator Referral Scheme protocol
I was delighted this week to sign, on behalf of the Bar, the Victorian Bar/Family Property List Mediator Referral Scheme protocol. This scheme is a cooperative initiative of the Victorian Bar and the County Court of Victoria. The scheme’s main purpose is to enable the Court to refer matters to mediation by barristers who are Nationally Accredited Mediators.
All barristers participating in the scheme are practising Bar members with experience in testator family maintenance or de facto property disputes. Any queries in relation to the day-to-day operation of the scheme should be directed to email@example.com. I would particularly like to acknowledge the work done by the Chair of the Bar’s ADR Committee, Tony Elder, and Her Honour Judge My Anh Tran of the County Court and thank them for their efforts in facilitating agreement to the scheme.
Mandatory reporting of misconduct
This week, the Bar made its submissions to the Department of Justice and Community Safety concerning the introduction of a mandatory requirement for lawyers to report the suspected misconduct of other lawyers. The issue has arisen as a consequence of Recommendations 86 and 87 of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants.
We have made it plain from the commencement of the consultation process that the Victorian Bar does not support an amendment to the Uniform Law to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement. We are not alone. The Australian Bar Association shares our view. We understand that the Law Institute of Victoria is also opposed to such amendments. We expect the Law Council of Australia will support the position taken by the legal profession in Victoria. You can read the Bar’s submissions here. These submissions provide a framework for those amendments, on the assumption that the views of the profession will continue to be ignored and the recommendations introduced.
Letters from the Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria
On the rare occasion a compliment is paid to our profession, it is important that members know about it. I have received letters from both the Chief Justices of the Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria expressing their appreciation for the hard work and continuing efforts of our members and the profession in their role in enabling access to justice for the Australian community. The Honourable Chief Justice James Allsop AO noted that “the Court and all the judges, is and are, alive to the kinds of difficulties which the profession is experiencing”. The Honourable Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, noting the significant strain on lawyers, went on to say “that all members of the Supreme Court appreciate the difficulties that barristers and solicitors are working under.” Their Honours made it plain that the Courts would consider these matters in relation to what can be done in the current environment. The letter from Allsop CJ can be viewed here, and the letter from Ferguson CJ can be viewed here.
Open Justice Project seeking barristers
Members working on pro bono matters can once again seek assistance from selected Monash University law students through the Open Justice Project. Students can assist with legal and paralegal tasks, such as legal research, simple drafting, and preparing chronologies or summaries of evidence. The project is now in its second intake; during the first intake, barristers reported that they received very high-quality assistance on a wide range of matters. Barristers seeking the assistance of a student for a pro bono matter should complete the request form on the Open Justice Project webpage.
Christopher Blanden QC