In Brief Issue #933

Dr Matt Collins AM QC

Supreme Court Pro Bono agreement

This week, the Supreme Court and the Bar signed a new protocol for court referrals in pro bono matters. 

The Bar operates two pro bono schemes in addition, of course, to the vast array of informal pro bono work which is done by individual members apart from the formal schemes. 

Requests for assistance from members of the public are assessed and managed by JusticeConnect, who contact members who have volunteered for pro bono work.

Requests are also made from time to time by courts where pro bono assistance from a barrister will assist the administration of justice.  Those requests are administered by the Bar.

The members’ page for pro bono work has been updated recently, with more information on how you can contribute your skills and time.

The Bar has been moving towards formalising our arrangements with courts so that requests will be made by court order.  This gives members the assurance that requests have been appropriately assessed and are limited in scope (so a member does not, for example, volunteer to give advice to a witness on the privilege against self-incrimination and find themselves ending up unexpectedly in a two-week trial).

The Supreme Court Protocol follows the general design of the County Court and Coroners Court schemes, which are both running well—the County Court scheme recently underwent its one-year review, with extremely positive results.

The Federal Court of Australia administers its own referrals by direct approach to individual Victorian Bar members.

I congratulate Pro Bono Committee Chair Richard Wilson, Deputy Chair Meredith Schilling and members Claire Harris QC, Michael Rivette and Donald Farrands for their work on the Supreme Court Protocol, and the Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice, for the collaborative way in which they have engaged with the Bar to bring this important initiative to fruition.



2019 Women in Law Awards

Congratulations to four Victorian barristers who are finalists in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards. 

Nicki Mollard has been nominated in the Academic of the Year category. Sharon Kermath and Fiona McLeod SC have been nominated in the Barrister of the Year category.  Laura Keily has been nominated in the Innovator of the Year category for Immediation.

The awards will be announced at the Hyatt on 22 November.



Last night, with many of our colleagues, I attended the world premiere of Anthem, an extraordinary new play by renowned Australian playwrights and authors, Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Irene Vela, Christos Tsiolkas and Patricia Cornelius, one of the headline acts for the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts.

The Barristers’ Consortium—a group of members who believe in the transformative power of the arts, are proud, through their philanthropy, to have enabled the Festival to present Anthem. In so doing, we demonstrate that our connection and contribution to the community extends beyond our day jobs.

Anthem explores what it means to be Australian in the 21st century, at a time of social dislocation and multicultural tensions in a city bursting at the seams. It is destined, I think, to become a modern Australian classic. There are further performances through to Sunday 6 October. Tickets are available here.


Artificial intelligence and the rise of the machines

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Sir George Turner Lecture at Melbourne Law School, at which Professor Emeritus Adrian Zuckerman spoke about the implications for the legal profession, the rule of law and the adversarial process of artificial intelligence.

There is no doubt that the disruption to traditional legal practice that we have all experienced in our professional lives will continue to accelerate, with some visions of the future imagining judges and lawyers eventually being replaced by artificially intelligent machines. Artificial intelligence has already transformed the way in which discovery is undertaken in large commercial litigation, and is increasingly a means by which members of the public obtain legal information and advice. With challenges, however, come opportunities—machines, at the end of the day, at least in the foreseeable future, are only as good as their programmers and the data available to them. As lawyers, we will need to learn how to interrogate machine learning and decision making in order to advise our clients and make submissions.

I commend the lecture to everyone. A video will shortly be available from the Melbourne Law School website.


Law…What is it Good For?

I found myself unfortunately jammed on Wednesday evening, and so missed the launch of the Victoria Law Foundation’s first research report, Law…What is it Good For? but I have since read this very impressive piece of research, which measured the community’s perceptions of the law and the justice system.

The research, based on a survey of 1,846 Australian adults, found that demography and exposure to the law are key to a person’s understanding and appreciation of the role played by the law, lawyers and courts. The report challenges our notions of justice being equally accessible to everyone in the community.


AGMs for the Victorian Bar and Barristers’ Benevolent Association

The AGMs for the Victorian Bar Inc and the Barristers’ Benevolent Association of Victoria (BBAV) will be held on Monday 28 October 2019 at 4.30pm.  The BBAV AGM agenda includes a proposed modernisation and restructure, which is the product of many months work led by Sam Hay, the Victorian Bar’s indefatigable Treasurer.

More details on the website and in the notice below, including proxy forms and an explanatory memorandum on the BBAV restructure.


Bar Council election – election timetable published

The timetable for the 2019 Bar Council Election has been published to our website and in the notices section below.  Nominations open on Monday 14 October.  Members who are eligible to nominate and vote will receive an email on Monday 14 October with information on how to nominate, but you are welcome to start thinking about it sooner.

If you are considering nominating, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or any of my Bar Council colleagues to discuss the work we do, so you can consider how you can contribute your sills, abilities and interests to give back to the Bar.


A busy week

Apart from the various events covered above, I represented the Bar yesterday at the welcome for Judge Rosemary Carlin at the County Court – my speech can be found here.

Behind the scenes, I had my regular catch-up with the CEO on Monday, and with the State Attorney-General on Wednesday. There was a Bar Council Executive meeting yesterday morning, ahead of next week’s full meeting of the Bar Council.

Vicbar News & Events
2019 Annual General Meetings of the Victorian Bar Inc. and the Barristers' Benevolent Association of Victoria

Notice is hereby given of the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Victorian Bar Inc. and Barristers' Benevolent Association of Victoria to be held on Monday 28 October 2019 at 4.30 pm (Victorian Bar Inc. AGM), and at approx. 4.40pm (Barristers' Benevolent Association) in the Bar Council Chamber, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East, 205 William Street, Melbourne.


PDF icon Notice of 2019 Victorian Bar AGM 28 October 2019

PDF icon VicBar Inc AGM 28 October 2019 Form of Proxy for prescription by Bar Council

PDF icon Minutes of VBI AGM 22 October 2018

PDF icon Notice of 2019 Barristers Benevolent Association AGM 28 October 2019

PDF icon Explanatory Memorandum BBAV Restructure

PDF icon Minutes of BBA AGM 22 October 2018

Timetable for 2019-2020 Bar Council Election

The 2019/2020 Victorian Bar Council election will be conducted on-line.  Instructions for on-line voting will be provided to members prior to the voting period.  A ‘hot desk’ will be available in the Bar office for those members without access to the website.

The timetable for this year’s election is as follows:

Opening of nomination period  9 am, Monday 14 October 2019
Close of nomination period 5 pm, Monday 28 October 2019
Voting opens 9 am, Wednesday 30 October 2019
Close of Voting 5 pm, Wednesday 13 November 2019
Declaration of the Poll 4:45 pm, Thursday 14 November 2019

Nomination forms will be emailed to members eligible to nominate or be nominated. Nomination forms will also be available for download on the website and via In Brief

  • Information regarding the election process will be published on the website and in In Brief and emailed along with the nomination forms. Conditions of eligibility to nominate and to be nominated are prescribed by clauses 45 and 48 of the Constitution of the Victorian Bar Inc.
Penang 2020 ICLC Expressions of Interest

Following on from CommBar’s very successful International Commercial Law Conferences (London 2016 & Hong Kong 2018), CommBar and the Victorian Bar will be holding the 2020 International Commercial Law Conference (‘ICLC’) at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang, Malaysia on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th of September 2020. As was the case with the Hong Kong 2018 ICLC, the timing of the Penang 2020 ICLC coincides with the first weekend of the September school holidays and is an event not to be missed!

The conference will feature speakers from the Victorian, English, Hong Kong, Malaysian and Singapore bars and judiciary and will address a range of current commercial litigation and arbitration topics. Solicitors and Corporate Counsel from the region are also expected to attend and, as ever, the conference will feature an exciting and memorable social program.

Penang is easily accessible via Kuala Lumpur or Singapore on Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Silk Air, Air Asia or Scoot in addition to direct flights to Penang from Melbourne, twice weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) on Jetstar. In addition to the conference hotel (The Eastern and Oriental Hotel), Penang offers a broad range of accommodation suitable to all budgets. Also, the conference registration fee will be competitively priced as it has been with previous CommBar ICLCs.

For now, we are seeking expressions of interest in the Penang 2020 ICLC from CommBar members. If you are interested in attending and consider it likely you will attend the Penang 2020 ICLC, please register your interest by emailing and we shall keep you informed of future developments.

In the meantime, should you have any queries, please feel free to contact Paul Hayes QC at

The Victorian Bar Choir: Join us in Term 4

Join fellow barristers and members of the VicBar community for an hour of relaxation and fun. Experience and obvious talent not required. All welcome.

Click here to view the flyer

Click here for the registration form

Seminar on Singapore Mediation Convention

In conjunction with the Resolution Institute and VADR, we are very pleased to invite you to a CPD session on the Singapore Mediation Convention to be followed by drinks at the offices of Pitcher Partners at 5:30 pm on 31 October 2019.

In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, now known as the Singapore Mediation Convention.

On 7 August 2019, in Singapore, 46 countries, including the USA, China, Singapore, India, Malaysia, the Philippines & South Korea – but not Australia; signed the Convention.

The Convention will facilitate the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements in cross-border disputes in much the same way as the New York Convention does for arbitral awards. It is intended that the Convention will promote the use of mediation and remove the need to involve courts or arbitral tribunals to achieve enforceable dispute resolution in disputes arising from cross-border transactions. This provides greater certainty to the parties, particularly where the terms of settlement contemplate future performance and enforcement remains an ongoing concern.

Australia’s failure to sign the Convention is disappointing given the extensive amount of international trade in which the country’s corporations engage.  It is hoped that this failure will be addressed by the Federal Government in the near future.

The speakers at this event have and will provide a unique insight into the Convention and its intended operation.  Professor Khory McCormick was the Australian Government Rapporteur at the UNCITRAL Working Group which drafted and settled the Convention.  Professor Rajesh Sharma was present at the signing of the Convention in Singapore.

If you want to learn more, find out what is really happening, make your own contribution, and perhaps hear from an international speaker on this very current topic, then this is a session not to be missed.

Singapore Mediation Convention CPD seminar

Date:            Thursday 31 October 2019
Time:            5:30pm - 7:30pm
Location:      Pitcher Partners 
                     Level 13/664 Collins St
                     Docklands VIC 3008

CPD points: 1.5 hour of CPD under NMAS and Resolution Institute accreditation schemes

Entry is free for Victorian Bar members - click here to register

Emotional Well-being for Lawyers - Foundation Workshop: Beginner's Mind, Neuro-plastic Brain

REGISTRATION ESSENTIAL Click here to register

This is a series of 6 workshops designed for the members of the legal profession, especially those who are curious and interested in finding more balance in work and life, and those who are keen to find an alternative path to achieve success. The sessions will teach practical skills that are essential to create and maintain positive mindset and emotional well-being. 

Attendees are encouraged to attend all 6 events but can register for individual events.

The first workshop is a foundation session on how we can be better at working with our mind and brain. Because of the risk/problem focused nature of legal work, lawyers may have developed a mental habit of “negativity bias”, and the legal minds may have been wired neurologically for a higher propensity for stress and negativity. This session will explore how we can change our thinking for the benefit of our brain health, especially for lawyers to re-wire its brain from negativity to more positive. This workshop is experiential in nature, so we will learn through reflective discussions, creative meditations and various play exercise to embody the understanding for ourselves. 

For more details please click on the link below.

Workshop Date: 10 October 2019:  Foundation Workshop: Beginner's Mind, Neuro-plastic Brain

Speaker: Elva Zhang

When: Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 17:00 to 19:00

Where: Richard Griffith Library, Owen Dixon Chambers East Level 1, 205 William Street

These sessions are not eligible for CPD points.

Vicbar Life
RACV Club special offer for VicBar members

A special introductory offer for Vic Bar members wanting to join the RACV Club ends on 31 October, 2019.

If you join before 31 October 2019, the RACV Club will waive its joining fee, so the annual membership fee of $910 will be reduced to $520, as well as a discount on the annual membership fee each year.

Membership includes exclusive access to the RACV City Club in Melbourne’s CBD, the Healesville Country Club in the Yarra Valley, and over 160 reciprocal clubs globally.

By joining RACV Club, you gain access to a range of social, leisure and business facilities and services. You will receive a 50% discount on accommodation at RACV Resorts, as well as discounted dining and day spa packages through the club rewards program. Members also receive unlimited golf with their stay at the Healesville Country Club, which boasts one of the best golf courses in Australia. Other exclusive offerings for RACV Club members are access to the fully equipped business centre and discounted parking rates at the Melbourne CBD venue.

An optional subscription to the RACV Club fitness facilities in Bourke Street (valued at $595) is also available to members.

Essoign Club Friday afternoons

Every Friday from 1.30pm in the Club dining room we are featuring English pianist Joe Ashmore.

Joe has toured extensively, as an accompanist and as a solo performer, since the age of 11. After training at London’s Trinity College of Music and receiving his Diploma, he worked as a session musician, doing both studio work and live session work for various jazz and hip hop acts, as well as performing works by Chopin and Debussy. Joe has a broad range of music tastes, ranging from Chopin to J Dilla, Ornette Coleman to Slum Village.

Member Benefits Australia - October exclusive member offers

Don't miss out on these exclusive member deals for October with some great offers and gift ideas.

Practice & Profession News
New Mortgage Recovery List in the Commercial Court

A new Mortgage Recovery List was established in the Commercial Court on 30 September 2019. From this date, there will also be some changes to the way court users file some new proceedings in the Commercial Court on RedCrest. For more information please refer to the Supreme Court’s website.

Profession CPD & Events
Melbourne Catholic Lawyers' Association retreat – “Stepping back from the Business”

The MCLA is hosting a half day retreat on Sunday 6 October with its chaplain Fr Cameron Forbes.

The retreat will take place from 9am to 1.30pm at Corpus Christi College in Carlton.  Morning tea and lunch provided.  Please see for details.

#FreeAndEqual2019 Australian Human Rights Commission Conference

Tickets are now available for the ‘Free and Equal: An Australian Conversation on Human Rights’, hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Sydney on Tuesday 8th October.

The conference is the centrepiece of the AHRC’s Free and Equal project and will feature special guest UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Michelle Bachelet.

According to AHRC President Rosalind Croucher AM, the conference was a once in a decade event.

“We will bring together experts on human rights as well as leaders from industry, government and the community,” Ms Croucher said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for you to take part in reshaping human rights in Australia, and participate in this conversation, exploring ways to better protect, promote and preserve our rights and freedoms.”

Over 500 participants are expected to attend the #FreeAndEqual2019 conference at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney.

Click here for more information or to register.

Recent Developments in Misleading and Unconscionable Conduct

The expert panel will discuss recent appellate authorities on misleading or deceptive conduct and statutory unconscionable conduct, including ASIC v Kobelt (High Court) and ACCC v Medibank (Full Federal Court). This seminar will provide an insight into the presenters’ differing perspectives – academic, corporate lawyer and regulatory lawyer.

Date: Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Time: 5.15pm – 6.15pm

Venue: Court 8A, Federal Court of Australia, Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts, Building 305 William Street, Melbourne

RSVP: Click here by Monday 14 October 2019

Click here to view the flyer for more information

Child Rights: Camps, Cages, Walls and Wire

Wednesday 16 October 2019

5.30pm – 7.30pm

Deakin Downtown, Tower 2, Level 12, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne


30 years after the launching of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children are being held in appalling conditions in military detention in Palestine, behind wire in Mexico, on Manus and Nauru as part of Australia’s offshore processing policy and in a prison condemned for adult occupation in the NT of Australia. Children with mental disabilities suffer doubly in custody and in institutional care. 

This panel session by the International Commission of Jurists Victoria in conjunction with Deakin Law School brings together global experts in person, online and by video to highlight the growing concern that the rights of children have been lost in the miasma of political rhetoric. Our panel will answer questions on their experience of the practical and legal issues in their roles attempting to find dignity and respect for children subjected to the harshest of treatment.

Panellists will be:

Professor Felicity Gerry QC

Dr Paul McDonough

Gerard Horton

Matthew Albert

John Lawrence QC

Dr Oliver Lewis

Julie Gilbert Rosicky

Cassandra Seery

Nicki Lee

See the Deakin Law School newsroom for further information and registration details.

UN Day Lecture 2019 - 25 Years of Cross Border Insolvency Law Reform 1994-2019

Since 1994, UNCITRAL has been developing model laws on Cross Border Insolvency (CBI), which have been adopted in Australia and most leading economies. These laws support globalisation of world trade by providing for cooperation in international insolvencies, through a process of mutual recognition by courts of foreign insolvency regimes and representatives. This year’s UN Day Lecture series will outline how the CBI framework operates, and examine the contribution made by Australian courts and practitioners to many of the developments in this field over the past quarter-century.

The UN Day Lecture series is an annual initiative of the UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for Australia (UNCCA) to highlight the work of UNCITRAL for practitioners and students. A Lecture will be held in each Australian capital city, with a local speaking panel. Light refreshments will be available afterwards, sponsored by the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA). Your city’s details are set out below.

Registration is required, with a fee for non-members of $25 and students of $5. There is no charge for members of UNCCA, ARITA, the Judiciary, court staff or the APS. Application will be made, where required, for CPD accreditation.

Wednesday 23rd October 2019: 5.00pm – 6.15 pm

Venue: Federal Court of Australia, Court 1
Chair: Justice David O’Callaghan
Speaker: Stewart Maiden QC, Victorian Bar
Commentator: Dr Neil Hannan, Thomson Geer

Click here for more information and to register.

La Trobe Law School Seminar - Barristerly dissonance: ethics, myths and strategies in rape trials

La Trobe Law School Seminar

Topic: Barristerly dissonance: ethics, myths and strategies in rape trials

Speakers: Emma Henderson & Kirsty Duncanson

Time/Venue: 11am-12 noon on Wednesday 23 October 2019 in Room 232 (Moot Court), Level 2, Social Sciences Building, Bundoora Campus, La Trobe University

Click here for registration and further details.

6 Day November Course – Last Chance to Become a Nationally Accredited Mediator in 2019

Registrations are now open for our November 6 day National Mediator Accreditation program. The program gives participants the opportunity to learn Conflict Transformation skills and receive their mediator training assessment as required by the National Mediator Accreditation System and upon successful assessment apply to become a Nationally Accredited Mediator.

Click on the below link for more information and to register.

National Mediator Accreditation Course

November 18, 19, 20, & 25, 26, 27

Visit our website for more information or join our mailing list to be kept informed on courses that are coming up.

Mediation Master Class

Are you wanting to extend and enlarge your mediation skills?

Back by popular demand we have decided to run our student’s and past participant’s favourite 3 day Mediation Master Class course this November in Melbourne. Please click on the link below for information and to register.

November 11, 12 and 13, 2019
Mediation Master Class - 3 Days

Visit our website for more information or join our mailing list to be kept informed on courses that are coming up.

Careers & Opportunities
InBrief Submissions - please email to: 
Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 10th October 2019