In Brief Issue #1134

Georgina Schoff KC

I wish you all a happy new legal year and hope that you have had a restful break. 

Like many of you, I attended a service on Monday to mark the opening of the new legal year. I chose to attend the Synagogue of the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation to support the Jewish members of our legal community. The service was a moving occasion. We prayed, including a legal prayer composed for the occasion by Maurice Ashkanasy QC who was chair of this Bar from 1953 to 1956, and we sang, led by the mesmerising voice of Cantor Didi Levin, a Senior Associate at Allens. One particularly delightful aspect of the service was the Honourable Justice Richard Niall’s tribute to the Honourable Justice Michael Sifiris to mark his retirement as a Justice of Appeal.

The Bar was represented at other services by Liz Bennett S.C., who attended the Red Mass and Mark Robins KC, who attended the Ecumenical service at St Paul’s Cathedral. Justin Hannebery KC represented the Bar at yesterday's Opening of the Legal Year event at Deakin University in Geelong.

On Wednesday next week, I and other members of the Bar Council will attend the annual Legal Laneway Breakfast. It is always a good opportunity to celebrate the year ahead with our colleagues in the wider legal community, and the Victorian Bar is proud to be a sponsor. Registrations are still open. If you wish to attend, click here.

On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Australia Day reception at Government House. I was curious to see who else might be there. Amongst the many members of the wider community, there were some members of the legal profession, including our Bar, the odd judge, members of the diplomatic corps and a few sporting celebrities. In the great reception hall, I spied the recent portrait of former Governor, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC by Yvette Coppersmith. I mention this because the Bar has commissioned a portrait of Dessau by the same artist that will be hung in the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery next week, along with our commissioned portrait of the Honourable Geoffrey Nettle AC KC (by Jude Rae) and a photographic portrait of Barbara Hocking, who was the first barrister briefed in the Mabo case. 

Speaking of Australia Day, I would like to congratulate retired members of our Bar, Dr Ian Hardingham AM KC who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the law and legal reform in Victoria, and Patrick Dalton OAM KC who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the law, and to the community.

I also extend my congratulations to his Honour Judge Michael Wise on his appointment as a judge of the County Court of Victoria and wish his Honour a long and satisfying career on the bench. Information regarding his welcome ceremony will be provided soon.

Last night, the Bar Council met for the first time this year. We had a busy agenda, but perhaps the most significant item of business was to appoint a working group to advise us on a new Strategic Plan for the next four years. The working group comprises senior and junior members who represent a wide cross-section of the Bar and will be chaired by Philip Crutchfield KC. The current Strategic Plan expires in June this year.

We also received the Adept Research Report on the results of last year’s State of the Bar Survey. With 650 respondents, representing about 30 percent of the Bar, the results are statistically robust. We are currently preparing some further tables that will assist with comparative data analysis from Bar Roll, but in the meantime, members can read the Report here. There is much to digest, but for me, the significant value of the survey and the report is that it has enabled us to track trends by comparing the data with that collected when we last conducted a State of the Bar survey five years ago. Two trends are worth noting. The first is that the gender pay gap has lessened with female income in the highest income bracket growing by a factor of 25%, compared to the increase in male income in this bracket at 14%. The second is a remarkable reduction in reported or observed incidents of discrimination and sexual harassment. Clearly, the work that the Bar has done to address these issues is working. Bullying has also decreased but remains a problem and will require increased focus.

There is much other planning and work being undertaken by our Bar Council, the Bar Office and by our committees for the year ahead. I look forward to working with Bar Council to ensure we serve our members through a successful 2024 and will keep you all informed. If, in the meantime, any of you would like to raise anything that you think we should be doing, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or any other member of the Bar Council.

Silks bows / ABA quarterly meeting

On Sunday, I will be heading to Canberra for the Silks bows at the High Court and the ABA Quarterly meeting on Monday, 5 February.

The silks ceremony will be held at 3:30pm and will be live-streamed. For members interested in viewing the ceremony, the link will become active just prior to the ceremony.

Georgina Schoff KC

Vicbar News & Events
Appointment — His Honour Judge Michael Wise

County Court of Victoria

The Honourable Chief Judge Peter Kidd of the County Court of Victoria has advised that the Governor in Council appointed his Honour Judge Michael Wise as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria effective 30 January 2024.

A welcome ceremony to mark his Honour’s appointment will be held in Court 3-3 of the County Court of Victoria, Level 3, 250 William Street, Melbourne on:

Friday, 23 February 2024 at 9:15am.

Australia Day Honours 2024

Order of Australia

The Bar congratulates the following members who received an award in the Order of Australia:

Dr Ian James Hardingham AM KC

Mr R Patrick Dalton OAM KC


We also congratulate all members of the legal profession who have received awards. 

Obituary — Nimal Wikramanayake KC

Bar Roll Number: 1025

It is with deep regret that the Victorian Bar informs members of the death of Nimal Wikramanayake KC. 

Nimal was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 11 August 1933 into an eminent legal family (his father was a QC).  He was educated at St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, Sri Lanka and then at Trinity Hall Cambridge, graduating MA (Cantab).  After being admitted to the English Bar, he and his wife Anna Maria (a fellow student at Cambridge) returned to Sri Lanka, where he practiced, for a brief time, at the Bar in Colombo. In 1971, he and his wife emigrated to Australia.

Nimal joined the Victorian Bar on 26 October 1972, reading with David Blackburn. He was a distinguished legal scholar and expert in property law, from 1977 editing and later authoring, Voumard’s The Sale of Land in Victoria, the leading text on the subject.

He had one reader, Grant Holley, and was appointed silk on 17 December 2002.

As recorded in his 2022 autobiography ‘A Life in the Law: A Memoir’, Nimal’s experiences at the Victorian Bar were not always happy, but despite this, he was a respected and honoured member of our Bar. In 2023, Nimal’s photographic portrait was unveiled by the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery Foundation. On that occasion, Nimal said that the unveiling of the portrait was the proudest moment of his life.

He will be missed by his former colleagues, family, and friends alike.

Obituary — Neville Bird

Bar Roll Number: 1984

It is with deep regret that the Bar informs members of the death of Neville R Bird on 25 January 2024. 

Neville was admitted to practice in 1968 and signed the Bar roll in 1985. Immediately following his admission, Neville joined a small legal practice in Portland, the heart of the Western District of Victoria. Shortly after, he became a Partner and grew the firm into more than a lucrative practice. It was the heartbeat of the community through which he became the local trusted advisor. This was recognised professionally when he became the President of the Western District Law Association and the area’s representative on the Law Institute of Victoria. 

In 1985, he joined the Victorian Bar, and from the first day of the readers’ course, Neville thrived in the professional and personal bonds he formed. Formerly, his practice was focused on workers compensation, that gave way to a robust personal injury practice grounded in his understanding of the life of busy solicitors and their needs. He was a frequent flyer of the Western District circuit, remaining connected to the intricacies of regional law and the community he built. Irrespective of the area of law, Neville considered himself a jury advocate and was at his brightest weaving words that captured juries over decades of connection with people and the law. 

Personally, Neville was the definitive appreciator of wine, art, books, politics, current affairs, theatre, and most of all, people. He was the first and last to offer hospitality to anyone who spent time with his legendary cohort on the 13th Floor. He was the entertainer and speech maker of many parties, always with a ready ear for a friend, colleague, or emerging legal mind.  His desire to celebrate was limitless and a rare few could keep pace. 

He is survived by his beloved and devoted wife Jayne, her daughter Sarah, his four children, Cameron, Emma, Andy, and Megan, nine grandchildren, and his former wife Leonie. There will be a Memorial in the coming weeks, with details to follow.

(This obituary was provided to the Victorian Bar by Neville’s family and was published it in accordance with his wishes).

Obituary — Zev Wagen

Bar Roll No: 3589

It is with deep regret that the Bar informs members of the death of Zev Wagen.

Zev had an extensive history working in youth justice, as a nurse with intellectually disabled youth and as a nurse educator. He developed a method of teaching non-verbal children to communicate by using a picture communication board.

Zev came to the bar in 2002, having completed a law degree at Monash University and the Leo Cussen Course. He read with Dr David Neal S.C., whom he impressed with his thoroughness and attention to detail.

Given his background in youth justice and working with disadvantaged young people, Zev was a natural fit for working in the extremely challenging area of the Children’s Court.

Zev was a passionate and fearless advocate of unwavering integrity who had no time for nonsense and who never let the emotional toll of his work interfere with the case at hand. He was well respected for his commitment to his work; putting in countless hours to ensure he was across every detail, no matter how small.

To those who knew him, he was a great intellect and a great friend, always prepared to lend an ear and provide support. He had a group of friends across the world, from Israel to New York, that would meet online every week to discuss the problems in the world, and he was widely read and aware of issues in all the countries where members of that group live.

After a short illness, he passed away on 3 January and was buried at a Jewish cemetery on 4 January in keeping with his Jewish heritage.

Zev’s laugh and support will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

Obituary — Gavan Leonard Rice

Bar Roll Number: 2019

It is with deep regret that the Bar informs members of the death of Gavan Leonard Rice.

After a career as a solicitor in Bairnsdale and West Melbourne, Gavan signed the Bar Roll on 21 November 1985 and read with Michael Wright KC. He retired in 2017 after 32 years at the Bar.

Gavan had a varied practice in planning and commercial law and was an accredited mediator.

He was an amusing raconteur who entertained many at dinner parties and other social occasions. He also had an incorrigible attraction to luxury cars. He was a keen golfer, and for many years, he organised the annual golf competition day between the Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria.

We extend our condolences to his family and friends.

Opening of the Legal Year 2024

The following service for the 2024 Opening of the Legal Year will be taking place:

Wednesday, 7 February 2024

  • Legal Laneway Breakfast 2024

8:00am at Hardware Lane; open to all members of the legal community.

The event will also be live-streamed. Please click here for event details and registration.  

Expressions of Interest — Victorian Bar Foundation Director

The Bar Council calls for expressions of interest from members who wish to be considered for appointment as a Director of the Victorian Bar Foundation.  

The Victorian Bar Foundation was established to progress the interests of justice in Victoria and further legal education and training in our community. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which enables the Bar and Bench to contribute to the community and causes outside the Bar itself.

Nominations close at 5:00pm, Thursday, 15 February 2024 and should be emailed to

Notice of Town Hall Meeting — 5-Year Readers’ Course Exam Review Panel

Members of the Bar are invited to attend a “town hall” meeting and share with the 5-Year Readers’ Course Exam Review Panel their thoughts and suggestions about the Bar Exam and Readers’ Course.    

The 5-Year Readers’ Course Exam Review Panel was established by Bar Council in August 2023 with Peter Riordan KC as Chair.

The Panel is conducting a review of the Exam and Readers’ Course and will make recommendations to Bar Council, including as to any changes to the Exam and the steps the Bar might need to take to allow the number of places available in the Readers’ Course each year to increase in future.  Interested members are encouraged to attend this in-person meeting and share with the Panel their thoughts and suggestions.


The Hon. Peter Riordan KC (Chair), Georgina Costello KC, Justin Graham KC, Ashlee Cannon, James McComish, Laura Johnston, Felicity Fox and Yusur Al-Azzawi


Monday, 12 February 2024

4:30 – 5:30pm


Neil McPhee Room, Level 1 Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William Street, Melbourne

Save the date — 2024 Victorian Bar Dinner

The 2024 Victorian Bar Dinner will be held at the NGV Great Hall on Saturday, 18 May 2024. Be sure to keep the date free in your diary.

CommBar 2024 International Commercial Law Conference

Registration is now open for the CommBar 2024 International Commercial Law Conference to be held on 3 and 4 July 2024 at the Inner Temple, London.

The CommBar 2024 ICLC in London will feature leading counsel and jurists from Melbourne and London speaking on a wide variety of commercial law topics. Attendees will be able to earn 10 CPD points across all required areas. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. The conference will also stage a black tie gala dinner in the Middle Temple Hall and an end-of-conference drinks reception in the Inns of Court.

In addition to the main conference taking place in London on 3 and 4 July 2024, CommBar, in conjunction with the Tax Bar Association, is convening an option ‘add-on’ seminar in Oxford on the afternoon of 1 July 2024 at Magdelen College, with a dinner to follow the seminar at the Ashmolean Museum.

Discounted early bird registration for the CommBar 2024 ICLC in London is available until 29 February 2024 at a price of $1,800 (standard registration for counsel over 5 years call - $1,980, incl. GST) and $1,500 (registration for junior barristers under 5 years call - $1,650, incl. GST). Registration includes attendance at all conference sessions on 3 and 4 July 2024, morning and afternoon teas, lunches, and admission to the gala dinner on 3 July and the end-of-conference drinks reception on 4 July. In addition to the CommBar 2024 ICLC registration, there is also the opportunity for attendees to purchase additional related subscriptions: Attendance at the Oxford seminar and dinner on 1 July ($595, incl. GST); and Accompanying person registration ($550, incl. GST – which permits a person accompanying a conference attendee to attend the gala dinner on 3 July and the end-of-conference drinks on 4 July).

Full details of the CommBar 2024 ICLC and registration are available at the conference website, which is now ‘live’:

The CommBar 2024 ICLC is not to be missed. Numbers are limited, so register now!

BCL Updates
  • Why Take Chambers with BCL? As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Victorian Bar, BCL provides a flexible and unique solution of chamber and technology support only available to members of the Bar. Click here to view our current vacancies.
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.

  • What can go wrong with family law mediations? is on Wednesday, 28 February 2024 from 5:15pm to 6:15pm. This seminar will look at common barriers to resolution in Family Law Mediations from the perspective of experienced counsel and mediators. There will be discussion about recent updates in case law as it relates to absence of capacity, absence of relevant disclosure, and contextual issues.
Vicbar Life
Studio 11 Exhibitiion — Philip Adams

Studio 11 is delighted to invite you to come to Level 11 ODC East to view a solo landscape exhibition by Philip Adams comprising some 29 works, all of which are for sale with all proceeds going direct to the artist.

Adams ably captures the excitement of exploring a landscape, including well known vistas such as Teddy’s Lookout at Lorne. Studying the detailed works brings rich rewards. The viewer’s senses are sharpened as the beauty of minute mosses, fungi, wildflowers, and insects to panoramic views of forests, cliffs, and mountains are absorbed. Vertical divisions are used in the larger works to combine imagery. Colours harmonise, contrast and change constantly from time of day to the time of year. It is these combinations which are often the start of a work, along with the textures and patterns. The collages are explorations. Paper is prepared with washes, resist impasto, and glazes to capture aspects of the landscape. These are then cut and assembled on a landscape ground either watercolour paper, or on canvas. From these arrangements, further images are suggested, which are developed by over painting, until some sort of balance between form and suggestion is achieved.

The exhibition runs from 22 January to 29 March 2024.

The Essoign Club

We are open daily from 7.30am – till late

Breakfast – for dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch – Daily Café Menu dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch Dine-In – A La Carte from midday.

Bar – EVERY EVENING   $5 Beer & Wine from 4.30pm – 5.30pm

Catering & Events – Special lunches, working lunches, private dinners, or something special you may have in mind. Email us at

Our new Spring Summer Menu is available here

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.

Click here to access the monthly Best Buys!

Practice & Profession News
LCA Memorandum: New ways to complete a Commonwealth statutory declaration in 2024

Please find here the Law Council of Australia’s Memorandum: New ways to complete a Commonwealth statutory declaration in 2024, as well as the attachment referred to therein.

Law Library website

Victorian legal professionals can enjoy improved access to authoritative legal resources with the revamped Law Library Victoria website.

The new Law Library website makes it easier for Victorian lawyers, judicial officers, and Court Services Victoria staff to access the Library’s comprehensive legal collection.

It includes:

  • a more secure 24/7 connection to expert legal content,
  • specialised area of law collections, and
  • My List, a personalised collection for faster access to frequently-used resources.

Explore the new Law Library Victoria website at

Profession CPD & Events
Wellness for Law Forum 2024

The Wellness for Law Forum will gather academia, practising lawyers, and students for a two-day conversation about the state of the law sector in Australia, hosted by Melbourne Law School and Monash University Faculty of Law.

In 2009, the landmark report Courting the Blues: Attitudes towards depression in law students and legal practitioners was published by the Brain & Mind Research Institute. This report confirmed that Australian law students and legal professionals shared similar mental health and wellness issues to their equivalents internationally.

International keynote speakers include Professor Caroline Strevens from the University of Portsmouth, Professor Nathalie Cadieux from the University of Sherbrooke and Dr Emma J. Jones from University of Sheffield, as well the Hon. Justice Peter Gray (Supreme Court of Victoria), His Honour Judge Frank Gucciardo (County Court of Victoria, Australia), The Hon. Andrea Coote (Former Member of Victorian Parliament, Australia).


  • Day 1: Thursday 15 February at Melbourne Law School, with a gala dinner at the State Library Of Victoria
  • Day 2: Friday 16 February at Monash, Faculty of Law

Hosted by Melbourne Law School and Monash University, Faculty of Law. Generously supported by Victoria Legal Services Board + Commissioner and Law Institute Victoria.

Tickets can be purchased here. For a full list of speakers and conference programs, visit the Wellness for Law Forum program page.

Navigating the Intersection of Canon Law and Civil Law in Practice

Date:  20 February 2024, 5.15pm to 6.15pm
Venue:  Neil McPhee Room, Owen Dixon Chambers
Speaker:  Fr Richard Waddell JCL

At law the Catholic Church is a voluntary association and canon law is its book of rules.  Practitioners and courts can thus be called on to interpret canon law, in the same way as they might interpret a company’s constitution or the terms of a trust.

Fr Richard Waddell practised at the Victorian Bar for 22 years and is now a Catholic priest working in Sydney.  He will focus on two recent cases in which priests have taken action against Archbishops through the courts - in one case to prevent a land sale, in the other claiming a denial of natural justice in a disciplinary proceeding.

For further details, please visit here

Unravelling Corporate Fraud Conference 2024

Date: 22 February 2024 (all day)

Venue: Remote or in-person in Perth.

Follow this link for a detailed program and information on registration.

Commonwealth Law Conference 2024

The LCA Commonwealth Law Conference 2024 Program is now available. Click here to view the program.

World Bar Conference 2024

Independent Referral Bars - Responding to Global Challenges

15 - 17 May 2024 | Belfast & Dublin
Royal Courts of Justice | Titanic Hotel | Dublin Castle | Christchurch Cathedral


View the full agenda, and the social programme, and book your place at

Every two years, the International Council of Barristers and Advocates & Barristers organises an international legal conference in different cities worldwide. The World Bar Conference is the only event that brings together members of the independent referral Bar from around the world for three days of debate and discussion on issues and topics of relevance.

Jointly hosted by The Bar of Northern Ireland and The Bar of Ireland.

Click here to view the flyer for more information.

Human Rights Law Trans-Tasman Conference

The Human Rights Law Trans-Tasman Conference that will be held in Queenstown, NZ, on 12-13 August 2024. 

Conference chairs:
Andrew Butler KC (New Zealand)
Kylie Evans SC (Australia)

Keynote speakers:
The Rt Hon Helen Winkelmann (GNZM), Chief Justice of New Zealand
The Hon Justice Kristen Walker, Judge of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria

Click here for more information.

Careers & Opportunities
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, 8th February 2024