Special General Meeting of the Victorian Bar next week
A Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Victorian Bar Inc will take place next Wednesday, 12 June 2019 at 5pm in the Neil McPhee room.
At the SGM, we will vote on the most significant package of proposed Constitutional reforms put in many years. The proposed reforms are the result of exhaustive work and exhausting debate by the Bar Council over several terms, and are directed at building a stronger and better governed Bar.
Please feel free to discuss the proposed reforms and any concerns with any member of Bar Council.
Even the simplest Constitutional reform is arduous and uncertain. Its greatest enemies are apathy and misinformation. Please take an interest in the governance of your association and attend the SGM to express your views.
Clarifying PSR 4
The proposed reform that seems to have generated the most debate is proposed special resolution 4 (PSR 4), which proposes to restore to the Bar Council a power it effectively lost with the advent of the Legal Profession Uniform Law in 2014, namely a direct power to reprimand, caution, require undertakings from or, in extreme cases, remove members from the Bar roll, in circumstances where they have engaged in conduct that, in simple terms, involves dishonesty or discreditable conduct to a barrister or has brought the legal profession into disrepute.
PSR 4 proposes an amendment which is similar to – but narrower, and with more safeguards, than – provisions that appear in the Constitutions of many professional member associations, including the NSW Bar (clause 7.2), the LIV (clause 17), the College of Surgeons (clause 3.2.1(d)), and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (Sch 1, definition of ‘Expulsion Event’).
PSR 4 is intended to ensure that the Bar is able to protect the reputations of all of its 2,100 practising members, as well as the reputation of the Bar as an institution. The proposed reform has nothing to do with rights of practice or the powers of the Legal Services Board and Commissioner – it is about the right of the Bar to manage its own membership.
On Wednesday, I sent an email to all members explaining in more detail the reasons why I support PSR 4. If you signed a proxy opposing PSR 4 based on misinformation or confusion, or were persuaded by my email, you can withdraw and replace your proxy by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. If you support the proposed reform but are yet to provide a proxy, please do so before the deadline.
Every member of Bar Council is available to discuss PSR 4 and the other proposed amendments at any time.
Get your copy of the Good Conduct Guide
The second edition of the Good Conduct Guide by Róisín Annesley QC was launched on Tuesday evening in the Neil McPhee room. All members of the Victorian Bar will be receiving a free copy.
The first edition, also authored by Róisín and published in 2006, quickly became an indispensable guide to practise at the Victorian Bar. The new edition has been fully updated to take account of the Uniform Law regime to which we are now all subject, with Róisín’s succinct and insightful commentary. Whereas the first edition was just for Victorian barristers, the new edition will quickly find a place on the shelves of our colleagues at all of the other Australian independent referral Bars.
It was a pleasure to join so many members of the bench and bar to celebrate the launch of the new edition on Tuesday with Róisín, who is of course also the Chair of the Victorian Bar’s Ethics Committee.
Special thanks go to the Legal Services Board of Victoria and Commissioner Fiona McLeay for generously supporting the Good Conduct Guide project, to Federation Press for publishing the guide, and to the many people who assisted Róisín in writing and producing such a splendid volume.
Picture: Róisín Annesley QC and Dr Matt Collins QC
A busy week
As well as the Good Conduct Guide launch, this week I also attended the launch of The Australian’s biannual legal review supplement, and did a number of media interviews to explain the appellate process in the context of the hearing in Pell v R.
Behind the scenes, I attended the first meeting of the Chief Justice’s preliminary evaluation committee for 2019, as we embarked on the process of evaluating applications for silk from the perspective of the profession in order to assist the Chief Justice in her difficult task of appointing Senior Counsel.
I am looking forward to seeing as many members as possible at the Special General Meeting next Wednesday, if not in person, then at least by proxy. Until then, have a great long weekend.