This week commenced with the 2021 Senior Counsel participating in the Silks’ Bows ceremonies before the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit and Family Law Court of Australia. The ceremonies are steeped in the tradition of counsel informing the Court of their appointment as Senior Counsel, and the Court recognising and welcoming their achievement and reminding them of their obligations to the Court, their clients and the profession. It was a happy occasion for the 2021 Silks to celebrate with their families and peers.
Bar Council was delighted to receive 476 expressions of interest from members to serve on Bar Committees for 2022. This is up approximately 30% on 2020. It is great to see such enthusiasm and engagement from members. Such a high level of interest will enable a number of committees to be substantially refreshed with new members, while maintaining continuity. Bar Council will consider the final composition of committees at its meeting on 13 December 2021.
Consistent with its commitment to transparency and for the first time in my memory, Bar Council, sought expressions of interest for directors of Barristers Chambers Limited from members. Sixteen EOIs were received and will be considered by Bar Council in consultation with BCL.
On Thursday, the first training session for the Bar’s Peer Support Barristers was held. Under the Bar’s Code of Conduct policies, Peer Support Barristers are the first point of contact for people with enquiries related to discrimination, sexual harassment or workplace bullying. I thank the following members who have volunteered to be Peer Support Barristers: Lachlan Armstrong QC, Elizabeth Bennett SC, Michelle Sharpe, Amanda Hurst, Jack Tracey, Jo Swiney, Sarah Keating, Kylie Weston-Scheuber, Caitlin Dwyer.
This week, I met with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Ferguson informed me that jury trials in both criminal and civil jurisdictions and in-person trials will return in a staggered manner from this week. This was very welcomed news for the Bar. The Court will continue to conduct some hearings and judicial mediations online at this time.
The Magistrates' Court of Victoria has published a new Practice Direction regarding COVID Recovery. This Practice Direction, No. 5 of 2021 - COVID Recovery, applies from 6 December 2021. For more information, see the notice below.
Róisín Annesley QC