In Brief Issue #1028

Christopher Blanden QC

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 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

Vicbar News & Events
Call for nominations for the 2023 Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards

Nominations for the next Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards are now open.

The next Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards Ceremony is scheduled for March 2023. In a change from previous practice, nominations for the next Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards will now open approximately 18 months in advance. 

Usually, the call for nominations occurs for a limited period before the ceremony. However, nominations for the 2023 awards are now open from September 2021 to November 2022. 

This change to the period in which nominations are open will enable a greater number of nominations and will permit members and court personnel, who know the great pro bono work done in our courts and tribunals, to immediately recognise outstanding pro bono activities by submitting a nomination as and when the work occurs.

If you are aware of barristers who are making an outstanding contribution representing parties on a pro bono basis, please consider making nominations throughout the nomination period.

For more information or to submit a nomination, click here.

Information about the Awards includes a short video featuring the Honourable Chris Maxwell AC, President of the Victorian Court of Appeal, explaining how pro bono assistance provided by barristers makes a difference to vulnerable people in our community. The Pro Bono Committee is grateful to Michael Rivette, barrister and past Deputy Chair of the Pro Bono Committee and past Chair of the Communications Committee, for all his hard work in creating this excellent video.

Members are reminded that information about how you can get involved in the Victorian Bar’s Pro Bono Schemes is available on the Pro Bono page of the members’ website here.

Converge – specialist phone lines for members

Converge International understands that people face many challenges in their lives and that these sometimes require specialised support. We believe the counsellors providing this support should be specialists with specific social or cultural experience, knowledge and understanding. Converge offers access to members to one session of specialist support (available during business hours only), in addition to Converge’s existing Employee Assistance Program services.

For more information about the specialist phone lines, please read the brochure.

BCL - commercial tenancy relief and staying COVIDSafe

Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme Regulations 2021

The new Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme Regulations 2021 were passed on Tuesday, 24 August 2021 and are effective from Wednesday, 28 July 2021 to Saturday, 15 January 2022.

Click here to view the COVID-19 BCL Rent Relief Scheme with details on eligibility, criteria and application form.

BCL’s ability to continue to provide this relief and support to those most in need depends on the support of those Bar members who can continue to pay rent.

If you have any questions, please contact BCL by email at


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

Victorian Bar and Monash University Open Justice Project

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.

The Open Justice Project is a collaboration between the Victorian Bar and the Monash Faculty of Law. It establishes a panel of later year undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Faculty who provide pro bono legal assistance (such as research and paralegal assistance) to barristers in pro bono matters. The Patron of the Project is the Honourable Chris Maxwell AC, President of the Court of Appeal. For further information about the Project, members can see the Open Justice Project webpage here.

Law Council of Australia – President’s Award 2021

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has invited the Victorian Bar to nominate a person for the 2021 Law Council’s President’s Award.

Members are invited to put forward their suggestions on whom the Bar Council should nominate for the Award. The eligibility criteria for the Award are available to read here.

Please email with your suggestions and include a CV and a statement about the nominee’s achievements and how he or she fits the eligibility criteria by COB Friday, 24 September 2021. This will enable the Bar Council sufficient time to meet and consider all suggestions and submit a nomination to the LCA in early October.


Each year, five of the Law Council’s most recent Past Presidents participate in a judging panel for the President’s Award. This is a prestigious annual award conferred in recognition of an Australian lawyer’s outstanding contribution to the public or other service. The Award is presented at the Law Council’s Gala Dinner. The judging panel will convene to consider the nominations following the close of nominations. The Law Council Gala Dinner is scheduled for Thursday, 25 November 2021, held at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Previous recipients of the President’s Award are (2007) Mr Lex Lasry QC, (2008) The Hon Ted Mullighan QC, (2009) Mr Bret Walker SC, (2010) Mr Colin McDonald QC, (2011) Ms Debbie Mortimer SC, (2012) Mr Mark Woods, (2013) Ms Elizabeth Heenan, (2014) Mr Geoffrey Eames AM QC and Ms Raelene Webb QC, (2015) Mr Ian Kennedy AM, (2016) Mr Julian McMahon, (2017) Mr David Neal SC, (2018) Mr Phillip Boulten SC, (2019) Ms Haley Allan and Mr Bill Mitchell and, (2020) Mr Stephen Keim SC.

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.

  • Magistrates’ Court Practitioner Townhall is on Monday, 20 September, 4:15-5:15pm. Similar to last year’s Townhall, this session provides practitioners with an update and an opportunity to ask questions regarding the ongoing work undertaken in the Magistrates’ Court as Victoria continues to navigate through covid-recovery and a new normal. This is an online-only event. Click here to join the meeting or visit the Upcoming CPDs page for meeting details.
  • NBC Foundations Series - Intervention Orders is on Wednesday, 22 September, 5:15-6:15pm. This session will deal with the practical and legal workings of the intervention order jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. This session is open only to barristers and is an online-only event. Click here to register.
  • Ethical Cross-Examination is on Monday, 27 September, 5:15-6:15pm. This session aims to remind barristers of how to undertake effective cross-examination while abiding by the barrister’s ethical obligations. This session is open only to barristers and is an online-only event. Click here to register.
  • Leadership at the Bar is on Thursday, 14 October, 4:30-6:30pm. For the first time, the Victorian Bar presents a two-part seminar dedicated to the leadership role of senior members of the Bar. It is open to silks and senior junior counsel with ten or more years of seniority only. Subject to Government health guidelines, the session will be delivered in person in the Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East. If Covid-19 restrictions are prohibitive, it will be delivered online. Confirmation and details will be advised by email closer to the date. This session is open only to barristers. Click here to register.

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

Vicbar Life
Member Benefits portal for Bar members

Victorian Bar members are encouraged to use the Member Benefits online portal, where you can access a wide variety of discounts, special offers, and member-only deals as part of your Bar membership.

The exclusive benefits are available Australia-wide and are not generally open to the public.

To activate your account and access the benefits, please click here. You must log in using your login details.

The Essoign Club

Dear Essoign Members,

The Essoign Club will remain open from 7:00am and operate as a takeaway and delivery as per the current restrictions.

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

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

As always, we would like to thank you for your support.

See you soon!

Practice & Profession News
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.
  • Federal Circuit and Family 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 County Court of Victoria has reviewed our operational settings, and the following will apply until further notice.


Consistent with the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria (except for Ballarat), the Court will resume circuits at the following locations from Monday, 20 September 2021:

  • Geelong
  • Latrobe Valley
  • Mildura
  • Warrnambool
  • Wodonga
  • Shepparton

When the Court resumed circuit jury trials in May, it coincided with an exemption from physical distancing and density quotient limitations for juries. While most circuit regions have now come out of lockdown, the exemption was not provided in the latest Health Directions.

As a result, jury trial procedures have been modified to meet density quotient and physical distancing requirements. In particular, for empanelment:

  • To obtain a reasonable jury panel size but still comply with density limits, the panel will be spread between the jury pool room and the trial courtroom (including the jury box) and in some courts at a third location (civil court or jury deliberation room).
  • Jurors are escorted to the courtroom for excuses (written excuses may be conveyed at the presiding judge’s discretion) and the parade.
  • If selected, jurors receive a lanyard and return to their assigned seat (whether in the jury pool room, trial courtroom or another location).

Linked here is a Circuits criminal jury trials where physical distancing is required – a guide for the profession and court users which sets out the necessary modified procedures.

In light of restrictions in place in Ballarat, circuit will remain suspended there until further notice. The Court will aim to resume circuit at Ballarat after restrictions are lifted and in accordance with the prevailing Health Directions.

Melbourne criminal jury trials

As there have been no significant changes to restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne, jury trials in Melbourne remain suspended.

Melbourne – onsite attendance by practitioners and other court users

The operational court settings that have been in place since 18 August 2021 will remain.

This means only matters of urgency or priority can be conducted by the Court onsite and only where there is no reasonable alternative. The restrictions explicitly limit the attendance of court users (practitioners, parties and others) to the extent necessary to support the functioning of the court.

Onsite attendance at Melbourne or Ballarat by any practitioner or court user will be very much by exception and will require approval of the Chief Judge, coordinated through the chambers of the presiding judge.

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

Melbourne and circuit - mask-wearing

Mask setting 1 will apply to criminal jury trials on circuit. This means all trial participants (including the judge and counsel) must wear a mask.

Mask setting 2 will apply to non-jury matters at Melbourne and on circuit provided the overall number of court users in the courtroom are at a minimum. This means, those in a speaking role (including the judge and counsel) are not required to wear a mask, but all other participants and other court users must wear a mask. In circumstances where in-person attendance of a large number of court users may be necessary, mask wearing by all court participants (including those in a speaking role such as the judge and counsel) will be required.

Melbourne and circuit - Letters of authority

The profession should obtain any letter of authority or work permit 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.

Changes to Supreme Court of Victoria file searches and affidavits

The Supreme Court of Victoria has new rules relating to court file searches and affidavits, which will come into effect soon.

As of Friday, 1 October 2021, evidentiary documents filed in a proceeding, including affidavits, exhibits to affidavits, witness statements, expert reports, written submissions, outlines of argument and chronologies, may not be inspected by any non-party until the document has been read or relied on in open court or for an application determined without a hearing. 

Prior to a hearing or determination, parties to proceedings will be required to provide details to the Court of any evidentiary documents they intend to rely on. 

There is no change to the process for submitting a file search request. However, there will be some changes to how documents will be made available upon a search.  Further information on those changes will be published soon. 

The way affidavits and exhibits are filed with the Court will also change. From Friday 1 October 2021, they will be required to be filed as a single paginated document with a maximum of one exhibit or bundle exhibit if more than one document is referred to in the affidavit. Multiple exhibits or separate affidavits and exhibits will no longer be accepted. These requirements will not extend to affidavits filed with the Registrar of Probates, which will remain unchanged.

Practice Note SC Gen 20 Inspection of Civil Court Files by Non-Parties and Notice to the Profession (Changes to File Inspections and Affidavits) have been published on the Court’s website, providing further details of the changes and how they apply in the Common Law Division and Commercial Court.

Further information on these changes can be found in the Supreme Court news story.

International Criminal Court - Counsel Support Section - Elections 2021

Please refer to the letters below for information on the election process for the Disciplinary Board and Disciplinary Appeals Board members for counsel and the representative of counsel in the Advisory Committee on Legal Texts (ACLT).

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Counsel Support Section at the e-mail address

Appointment of the representative of counsel in the Advisory Committee on Legal Texts

Elections of Members of the ICC Disciplinary Organs

Do you have experience with concurrent expert evidence?

KordaMentha and the Australian Bar Association are seeking views of practitioners about concurrent evidence practices in Australia.

If you have first-hand experience with concurrent evidence and would like to be part of the survey, we encourage you to participate.

More information is here. Take the survey here. The survey closes on Friday, 17 September.

Sentencing Advisory Council Report Released – Sentencing Older Offenders in Victoria

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released a report on Sentencing Older Offenders in Victoria.

The report studies 30,033 offenders sentenced when aged 60 and over in the ten years from 2010 to 2019 in Victoria, finding that:

  • between 2010 and 2019, the number of older offenders sentenced each year increased substantially, well beyond the growth of people aged 60 and above in the Victorian population.
  • the increase in older offenders in the higher courts was mainly due to an increasing number of historical sex offence cases. Almost one in five sex offence cases involving older offenders was sentenced 40 years or more after the offending.
  • the increase in older offenders sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court was mainly caused by an almost doubling of traffic/vehicle offences cases involving older offenders. The number of older offenders sentenced for assault and justice offences also more than doubled.
  • the number of older offenders sentenced to imprisonment each year more than doubled between 2010 and 2019, partly explaining Victoria’s aging prison population.

The report is available on the Council’s website here.

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.

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

Find out more at

Appointment as Manager of the incorporated legal practice Dean’s of Law Pty Ltd

On Friday, 3 September 2021, the Victorian Legal Services Board (‘the Board’) resolved to appoint Mr Howard Rapke as Manager of the incorporated legal practice Dean’s of Law Pty Ltd (‘the Law Practice’), pursuant to section 334 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (‘Uniform Law’).

The appointment is for a period of nine months and expires on Monday, 6 June 2022, unless the appointment is extended or otherwise terminated in accordance with section 340 of the Uniform Law.

Members of the Victorian Bar who have recently been briefed and/or undertaken work for the Law Practice may be impacted by this appointment. Please contact Mr Rapke on (03) 9321 9752 or by email at if you have any concerns about payment of your fees.

Profession CPD & Events
CIArb Australia Annual Lecture 2021

CIArb Australia will be hosting the Annual Lecture 2021 during Australian Arbitration Week on Tuesday, 19 October 2021 between 5:00–6:00pm AEDT. The speaker for this year's lecture is Mr Bret Walker AO SC and the lecture topic is Privacy or Secrecy? Open Justice Values as a Challenge to Arbitral Procedure.

Click here to view the flyer for more information and to register.

UNCCA UN Day Lecture on the Singapore Convention on Mediation

UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for Australia invite you to join us for an online lecture on the Singapore Convention on Mediation. The live, interactive webinar will occur across two consecutive afternoons from 5:00pm (AWST) on Wednesday, 20 October 2021 and from 5:00pm (AEST) on Thursday, 21 October 2021.

The lecture will include a keynote address from Khory McCormick, a past Australian delegation member for UNCITRAL Working Group II, which produced the Singapore Convention. Laura Kelly, Founder and Managing Director of Immediation, an online dispute resolution platform, will join the discussion.

For more details, including registration (free of charge) and about the speakers, see the flyer here.

Australian Academy of Law 10th Annual Patron's Address - 21 October 2021

The flyer available here is for a free event held by the Australian Academy of Law, most likely streamed online.

The annual Address was inaugurated in 2012, given by the Academy of Law’s then Patron, the Hon Robert French AC, then Chief Justice of Australia.  In 2020 it was given by Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC; in 2019 by the Academy of Law’s present Patron, the Hon Susan Kiefel AC, Chief Justice of Australia; and in 2018 by the then Chief Justice of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Dame Sian Elias GNZM PC.

The Australian Academy of Law is grateful to The Hon James Allsop AO, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, for agreeing to deliver this, our tenth, Patron’s address. The topic of this year’s address – "Thinking about Law: the importance of how we attend to the problem at hand and of context”.

Book now for the International Bar Association's Global Showcase 2021

Last year, the IBA held a one-of-a-kind virtual event, the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference, which took place during November. It was a resounding success with over 13,000 registrations! We are grateful to you, members and non-members, for supporting the conference.

This year the IBA invites you to join us for yet another first-of-its-kind event, the IBA Global Showcase taking place 25-29 October 2021. The IBA Global Showcase will be a virtual event, and registration will be FREE to both members and non-members of the IBA.

The IBA Global Showcase will highlight the wide range of important work undertaken, the huge expertise, and the experience the IBA membership has to offer and provide an important platform to share that knowledge with the widest possible global audience.

Throughout the week, there shall be a series of high-profile sessions, which will discuss some of the biggest issues and challenges facing the legal profession globally.

Furthermore, there shall be extensive networking opportunities for all who attend. The IBA Global Showcase will bring together the IBA’s membership and provide the opportunity of meeting once again, as well as the opportunity of making new friends and contacts through the networking sessions.

Whilst we are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow, we urge all our members to continue to take care and to engage with the IBA and the global legal community so that we can continue to support each other and protect the rule of law, human rights and core values of our profession.

We look forward to having you join us. Let us make this yet another memorable IBA event!

Click here to register.

Australian Insurance Law Association E-Trials Webinar - Thursday, 28 October 2021

Please click here to view the flyer for the upcoming AILA webinar on Thursday, 28 October 2021 (1:00–2:00pm).

The webinar focuses on ‘judicial expectations and arrangements for remote hearings’ and includes Bar members Mary Anne Hartley QC, Michael K Clarke and Lachlan Howe.

International Chamber of Commerce Make Climate Action Everyone's Business Conference

The Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business Forum hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce from 1–13 November 2021 will catalyse peer-to-peer discussions and frank exchanges between business leaders from small, medium-sized and multinational enterprises representing different sectors and jurisdictions; policymakers leading the UN negotiation process as well as local government representatives and UN agency heads.

This entirely virtual Forum aims to bring together 10,000+ participants from over 100 countries and will be organised around five key themes, focusing on critical issues to consider when developing the necessary regulatory frameworks and incentives needed to enable rapid decarbonisation of the global economy.

Please register your interest here if you'd like to stay up to date on opportunities to attend this event. 

Careers & Opportunities
Expressions of interest - NT Director of Public Prosecutions

An opportunity exists for a highly experienced legal practitioner to be appointed as the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Northern Territory.

The right candidate will be an exceptional senior legal practitioner with an admission period of at least 10 years, and:

  • Possess an ability to operate with professional integrity and independently make sound decisions at the highest level.
  • Be capable of communicating effectively with the public, judicial officers, police, government agencies, and the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
  • Have substantial practical experience in criminal law and highly developed
    legal and advocacy skills.
  • Proven budget and people management capabilities.

Expressions of interest with supporting details and referees should be addressed to:

Gemma Lake
Acting CEO, Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Darwin NT 0801

Or email to

The closing date is Thursday, 30 September 2021. Enquiries should be directed to Ms Lake on telephone (08) 8935 7400.

Further information about the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions can be found at

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, 22nd September 2021