Last Friday the Australian Financial Review published a series of articles criticising the productivity of Federal Court judges based on a crude arithmetical methodology that divided the length of judgments delivered by the number of days that had elapsed between the reservation of judgment and the delivery of reasons, in order to produce a number supposedly representing the number of words and paragraphs generated per judge per day. The methodology only needs to be stated to be seen to be meaningless to the point of absurdity.
The Victorian Bar responded the day the articles appeared with a media release rejecting the paper’s analysis as misconceived. Among other flaws, it did not take into account the nature, complexity or duration of trials; the number of parties, witnesses or documents tendered in evidence; matters that settled as a result of active case management without trial; and time spent by judges dealing with appellate matters. I also submitted a letter to the editor which was published on Monday.
As I said in my letter to the editor, as barristers, we are at the coalface of the administration of justice every day and we know how hard working our judges are, often under enormous pressure. The AFR’s attack was unfair. The judiciary deserved better.
Letter to the editor (PDF version)
Congratulations to Paul Anastassiou QC, whose appointment as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia was announced this morning by the Commonwealth Attorney-General. There will be much to say about Paul, including his extraordinary contribution to the Victorian Bar, in due course, but for now I am sure you will all join me in wishing him every personal and professional success in his new role.
Congratulations to the Hon Tony Pagone QC, who has been elected the President of the International Association of Judges (IAJ)—the first Australian to hold the office.
In accepting the Presidency, at the Annual Meeting of the IAJ in Marrakesh, Tony said:
“We know and understand the work that judges do, and we know and understand the vital importance of that work to freedom, safety and an orderly society. We know also about the vulnerability under which judges work and live, and therefore of the need to foster and preserve judicial impartiality and the rule of law.”
The IAJ was founded in 1963 with the aim of safeguarding the independence of the judiciary in order to guarantee the rule of law, human rights and freedom.
Voting for the 2018/2019 Bar Council Election is underway and closes at 5 pm on Wednesday 14 November 2018.
Voting is being conducted wholly online. The electronic voting portal is accessible from the Member homepage of the Victorian Bar website, using your member login and password, or via this link (you must be logged in). A ‘hot desk’ is available in the Bar office to complete online voting, if required.
The results of the election will be declared at 1pm on 15 November 2018.
Last night was both celebratory and melancholy, as we held a farewell dinner for our much admired CEO, Sarah Fregon, whose reign ends, after almost 4 years, at close of business today.
The dinner was attended by Sarah and her husband, current Bar Councillors, senior Bar Office staff, “Sarah’s Presidents”: Jim Peters QC, Paul Anastassiou QC, Jennifer Batrouney QC and yours truly, and the Hon Chief Judge and Deputy Chief Justice Alstergren.
Sarah leaves a remarkable legacy to which I could not do adequate justice here. Among other achievements, Sarah:
Our new CEO, Katherine Lorenz, takes over next week.
We’ll miss you Sarah! On behalf of the Bar, thank you for your contribution, and very best wishes for your new role as a Senior Partner at Deloitte Legal
Although we’re in caretaker mode while voting is underway for the next Bar Council, work continues unabated.
On Monday, the Bar’s Vice-Presidents and I attended a board meeting of the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery. During the week, I chaired a meeting with representatives of VGSO about government briefing practices, met with Maxwell P about a range of issues (including challenges faced by barristers with disabilities), and had my final regular catch-up with our outgoing CEO Sarah Fregon.
On Wednesday, I was in Sydney as the lone Victorian voice on a NSW-dominated Law Council panel discussion about defamation law reform. Last night, we officially launched the pro bono agreement between the County Court and the Victorian Bar. You can sign up to be included in the scheme here.
Next week, as the 2017–18 Bar Council’s term draws to a close, I’ll substantially devote my message to a year-in-review report to all members on the Bar’s major activities over what has been a busy year.