Yesterday, our 25 newest silks took their bows in ceremonial sittings of the Supreme Court, the Federal Court and the Family Court, in the presence of many members of the judiciary and our Bar, as well as their families and friends.
In the Supreme Court ceremony, Chief Justice Ferguson reminded the new silks that their appointments come with increased responsibilities, in terms of the matters in which they will appear and advise, as well as their obligations to their colleagues and the broader profession. Her Honour stressed the importance of ensuring that silks give meaningful speaking roles to their juniors and emphasised that they will be welcomed by the Court when they do so, and spoke of the obligation on silks to have regard to the full array of talent at the Victorian Bar when recommending juniors, including in particular women and barristers from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds.
The institution of silk dates back to around 1594, when Queen Elizabeth I named Sir Francis Bacon as “learned counsel extraordinary to Her Majesty”. In 1604, King James I issued Sir Francis with letters patent, which came in those days with an annual stipend. Originally a retainer binding counsel not to act against the Crown, the honour became, in the 18th century, a mark bestowing rank and precedence on individual barristers. The first silks were appointed in Victoria on 10 August 1863. At the time, the practice was that silks were forbidden from appearing in inferior courts, drawing pleadings or generally undertaking work reserved for members of the junior Bar.
I again congratulate our newest silks, who I know have felt overwhelmed (in a good way) by the well wishes that have been extended to them since the announcement of their appointments by members of the judiciary and the profession.
Now, however, back to work…!
Back row: Scott Smith, Francis O’Loughlin, Justin Hannebery, Diana Piekusis, Dr Andrew Hanak, Tomo Boston, Raymond Gibson and Jennifer Firkin
Middle row: Richard Dalton, Fiona Forsyth, Dr Michael Rush, Eugene Wheelahan, Dr Catherine Button, Anthony Strahan, Andrew Palmer, Frances Dalziel, Elizabeth Brimer and William Lye OAM
Front row: Christopher Archibald, Cam Truong, Peter Rozen, Andrew Ingram, Juliet Forsyth, David McAndrew and Colin Mandy
Bar Committees for 2019
The final Bar Council meeting for the year was held last night. Membership of almost all Bar Committees for 2019 was decided at that meeting. Applicants will receive the results of their applications shortly.
Thank you to all members who put in expressions of interest to serve on Bar Committees. The Bar Council relies very much on the preparedness of members to volunteer their time to do the important work undertaken by Committees, and such is the talent and professionalism of our Bar that we are never short of volunteers.
Populating the Bar’s Committees each year is a time-consuming and difficult task. The Bar Council has been careful to try and balance, among other matters, continuity and refreshment of membership of committees; the skills of candidates for the available places as disclosed by their expressions of interest; a fair spreading of the limited spaces among as many members of the Bar as possible; appropriate gender, cultural and other diversity of membership; a spread of seniorities; and adherence to the requirements of the Charters of each Committee.
To give you some idea of the magnitude and difficulty of the task, here are some statistics:
If you have been appointed to a Bar Committee, congratulations, and expect to be called upon to make a contribution. If you were not appointed to a Bar Committee, I hope the above information assists in understanding the difficult task that was faced by Bar Council. Either way, I thank you for your preparedness to serve the Bar.
At its meeting on 28 November 2018, the Bar Council resolved to make a number of changes to the Board of Barristers’ Chambers Ltd.
I am pleased to inform members that, with effect from 8 December 2018, the BCL Board is constituted as follows:
Thanks on behalf of the Bar go to Paul Anastassiou QC, who has been Chair of BCL for the past year, and who has resigned in order to take up his appointment from 1 February 2019 as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; Jack Fajgenbaum QC, who has served as a director of BCL for nine years and, in that time, made a remarkable contribution; and Alice Williams, who has served as an external (non-barrister) director since July 2015.
ABA Singapore Conference—11-12 July 2019
What better present could we give ourselves than a full set of CPD points, a couple of days at the Andaz Hotel, flights at promotional rates and a partridge in the option of a tropical or European summer holiday in your winter break?
For all that, you need only to commit to next year’s conference of the year, the ABA’s conference in Singapore from 11-12 July 2019.
Although the conference focus is on general litigation skills, there will be special tax, arbitration and mediation streams. All of the presenters will be leaders of the profession, including Chief Justice Kiefel. The conference promises to be interesting and highly relevant to day-to-day practice.
Click here for conference, accommodation and promotional flight details, or see the notice below. Now is the time to register.
Swearing in and welcome for Alstergren CJ and McClelland DCJ
On Monday, it was an honour to speak in the Family Court on behalf of the Australian Bar Association, the Victorian Bar, the other Independent referral bars of Australia, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the Family Law Bar Association at the ceremonial swearing in and welcome for Chief Justice Alstergren and Deputy Chief Justice McClelland.
It was a star-studded event. The Court was addressed by Commonwealth Attorney-General the Hon Christian Porter MP, me and Doug Humphreys OAM, the President of the NSW Law Society. In attendance, among many others, were her Excellency the Hon Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and Tony Howard QC; the Hon Susan Kiefel AC, Chief Justice of the High Court; the Hon James Allsop AO, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia; the Hon Anne Ferguson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria; the Chief Justices or their representatives from all interstate Supreme Courts; the Hon Mark Dreyfus MP, Commonwealth Shadow Attorney-General; many other distinguished members of the judiciary; and a packed court room full of barristers, solicitors and friends of the new Chief and Deputy Chief Justices.
There is a link to my speech here.
Thank you to Sam Hay for representing the Bar at the ceremonial welcome for Magistrates Alanna Duffy and Timothy Hoare in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. Sam’s speech can be read here.
Expressions of Interest for VicBar website review
Expressions of interest are sought for a small team of members interested in reviewing the Victorian Bar Website with a view to making recommendations as to content, navigation and ease of use.
EOIs and enquiries to Liz Ingham at the Bar Office: email@example.com / 9225 6947.
In other news…
As always in the lead-up to the end of the year, there were many events around the traps this week, including functions for new silks and the launch of the latest edition of the Victorian Bar News on Wednesday night—by the way, a great looking edition, and a great summer read: my thanks on behalf of the whole Bar go to the outstanding work of the editors and committee.
Behind the scenes this week, I met with the new BCL Chair John Karkar QC and CEO Paul Clark. I also met with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, representatives of the Professional Standards Councils to discuss the Bar’s Professional Standards Scheme (more information about that below), representatives of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Judges of the Victorian Registry of the Federal Court to present the results of the Bar’s Health & Wellbeing Survey, and representatives of the Essoign Club. I also continued a series of one-on-one meetings with members of Bar Council to discuss priorities in 2019.
Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah* / Seasons Greetings
So endeth my final ‘President’s Message’ for the year. I have asked the editors to replace me with something tasteful next week.
My thanks to Wendy Harris QC and Simon Marks QC who will take turns as Acting President as various times during my annual leave over the next few weeks.
In my absence, all enquiries for the President should be directed to the Victorian Bar office on 9225 7111, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Could I take this opportunity to wish all members the very best for the summer period. As our health and wellbeing survey showed so graphically, our work, while very rewarding, is hard and stressful. Regular breaks are indispensable if we are to maintain good mental health and connect with loved ones and friends. I look forward to seeing you all on the other side of the break.
* Yes, I know, Hanukkah finished on 10 December, please don’t email me about it.