New Coroners Court Pro Bono Scheme
The Victorian Bar and the Coroners Court have worked together over recent months to create a pilot of a new pro bono scheme, which will commence in the coming weeks, ahead of a formal launch in June. A copy of the agreement between the Court and the Bar is available here.
The scheme is designed to fill gaps in the provision of legal assistance and representation to people affected by the coronial process who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.
Under the scheme, Coroners will be able to request the assistance of pro bono counsel, in appropriate cases, in relation to:
The “exceptional circumstances” category is intended to cover situations where a Coroner forms the view that it is both necessary and in the interests of justice to refer a matter for pro bono assistance under the Scheme.
The Coroners Court has developed a Pro Bono Referral Scheme Guide setting out relevant legal principles, legislative provisions and case law in relation to each of the principal categories that may be the subject of referral under the Scheme. The Guide will be provided to barristers participating in the scheme, to assist in ensuring that high quality advice and representation can be provided, noting that assistance is often required on very tight timelines.
For members of Counsel interested in building a practice in the Coroners Court, the Scheme will be a means of gaining valuable experience.
The finalisation of the Scheme is a fine example of collaboration between the Coroners Court and the Victorian Bar, directed at improving access to justice to vulnerable members of the community. It was only possible due to the hard work, over many months, of members of the Bar’s Pro Bono Committee, especially Meredith Schilling and Richard Wilson. At the Coroners Court, the idea originated with the State Coroner, her Honour Judge Hinchey and has lately been championed by Coroner McGregor. My thanks and gratitude to all involved on this significant achievement.
To express interest in participating in the Coroner’s Court Pro Bono Scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets are selling fast for the annual Victorian Bar dinner on Friday, 17 May 2019. As always, this will be a highlight of the annual calendar. Our guest speaker this year is the Honourable Anne Ferguson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
We have again secured, as the venue, the Plaza Ballroom (Melbourne’s answer to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) at 191 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Yesterday, I attended one of the most solemn events in the President’s diary, the official Bar Dinner Menu Tasting, which I confess was my principal reason for standing for a second term. The food and wine are both exceptional.
Tickets are $220. There is a discounted rate of $130 dollars for readers from the September 2018 and March 2019 intakes. Book a table of 10, or ask to join a table either as a smaller group or an individual. Book now to avoid disappointment…click here to register.
A busy week
My public duties this week included representing the Bar at the ceremonial welcome for Justice O’Bryan in the Federal Court (speech available here) and attending the Supreme Court Prize Awards Ceremony (see below), one of those events that, because of the talent of the winners, naturally causes the mind to wander to a dark place about whether, nowadays, one would even get into law school or obtain a graduate position.
Behind the scenes, I chaired a meeting of the Bar Council’s Governance Working Group in relation to the forthcoming proposal to reform the Bar’s Constitution and attended an Ethics Committee meeting which was also attended by the Legal Services Commissioner and members of her staff.
Congratulations to Stewart Anderson QC, who has been appointed as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, commencing on 6 May. I wish Stewart every personal and professional satisfaction in his new role. Details of his welcome will be advised when they become available.
Vale Andrew Bristow
A sad event at the Bar this week, with the loss of Andrew Bristow, who is remembered fondly throughout the judiciary and profession for his wit, charm, common sense and perception. The Bar’s obituary and details of the funeral may be found here.
My thanks to Geoff Dickson QC, who represented the Bar on Wednesday at the welcome for the Honourable Justice Norah Hartnett as a judge of the Family Court of Australia. Geoff's speech can be read here.
My speech at the welcome for Justice O’Bryan can be read here.
John Snaden will be both sworn in and welcomed as a judge of the Federal Court on Monday 29 April 2019 at 9.30am.
The profession will welcome the Hon Justice Tim McEvoy to the Family Court of Australia on Tuesday, 30 April 2019 at 4:30pm.