In Brief Issue #955

Wendy Harris QC and Katherine Lorenz

Joint message from the President and CEO

We are both writing to you today because this has been an exceptional week. Although we are only three months in, this year has already been one of the most devastating Australians have faced. Yet, as we meet our shared challenges, we continue to be impressed by the resilience displayed by our members.

Resilience is a trait you all honed during your journey to becoming a barrister — the late nights, time spent away from friends and family, and questions about how your careers would progress. We learnt to live with uncertainty and persevered to sign the Bar roll, to establish our practices and, finally, to get briefs. Even in ordinary times, many of us have learned to live with the barristers’ curse – the little voice in the back of your head that says “where’s the next brief coming from?” Resilience is central to our professional existence.

We provide strong, independent legal representation and advice to all in the community, which is why our Bar is an integral part of our system of law and justice. It will remain that way – no matter what challenges our country faces.

As you will have seen in our recent communications, there are many changes being made to practice in the courts and across the profession in response to COVID-19. We now need to draw on our reserves of resilience and work cooperatively with the courts and other members of the profession to help ensure these new, technology-enabled ways of administering justice work effectively.

In the face of these issues, we remain optimistic because of the galvanising effect of significant adversity. History demonstrates that it gives people the opportunity to show what they are truly made of and can bring out the best human qualities in all of us.


Bushfire relief volunteers

It’s important to remember that the difficulties many Victorians face following the bushfires have not disappeared. Disaster Legal Help Victoria is looking for volunteers who are local to either East Gippsland or North East Victoria and can provide advice, information and referrals to people directly impacted by the bushfires. If so, please register here.

If you are interested in providing other pro bono assistance, please register your interest in the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Scheme administered by Justice Connect.


Applications open soon for Senior Counsel

The Supreme Court has announced that applications for Senior Counsel for 2020 will open on Monday 30 March 2020 and close on Friday 1 May 2020. This timeframe is earlier than in previous years and incorporates the Easter break, so please bring it to the attention of anyone you think should apply. Please bear in mind in completing the forms that you should provide remote-from-chambers contact details (mobile phone, email) where possible, for non-judicial referees.  As in previous years, we will be providing guidance to potential candidates for silk in the coming weeks.


CPD requirements

You may have seen the announcement this week by the Legal Services Board + Commissioner that exempts solicitors from their face-to-face CPD requirements. These exemptions do not apply to barristers, as the Bar is governed by different CPD requirementsThere are, however, special exceptions for those living and working in bushfire-affected areas. We remind members that they need to complete 10 CPD points by 31 March.


Ongoing updates about operations and practices in courts, tribunals and across the profession

Given the volume of changes being made to the working of the courts, we will continue to provide members with regular updates from the CEO. Visit the member health and wellbeing page for up-to-date news about COVID-19.

As we end a week of significant change and challenge, we hope you also look forward with optimism. We encourage you to enjoy some of life’s pleasures over the weekend.


Wendy Harris QC                                                        Katherine Lorenz

President of the Victorian Bar                                    CEO of the Victorian Bar        

Vicbar News & Events
COVID-19 – What you can do to protect yourself and those around you

We understand that members are worried about the risks of COVID-19. Please see the new section on our member website, designed to answer some questions you may have, point you to government information websites, and let you know what VicBar and BCL are doing to assist members.

We will be updating this page with new information regularly. Please note that all of these websites referred to on the page are regularly updated and you should refresh your browser to ensure you are viewing the latest news.

Applications for Senior Counsel 2020

The Supreme Court has announced that applications for Senior Counsel for 2020 will open on Monday 30 March 2020 and close on Friday 1 May 2020.

Information for members considering applying for silk includes:

If you have any questions about the application process, including how to fill in your application form or if you would like to have a confidential discussion about making an application, please send an email to

Nominations for appointment to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria Civil Practice Committee

The Bar Council is calling for expressions of interest for the position of a Victorian Bar representative on the Magistrates’ Court Civil Practice Committee.

The Civil Practice Committee meets on a monthly basis to review and discuss matters affecting the civil jurisdiction of the Court.

The next meeting will take place on 20 April 2020.

The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of members to external bodies can be found here. Your Expression of Interest should include a copy of your CV and identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise. 

Please forward your expression of interest to Denise Bennett at The closing date for EOIs is 5pm, Friday 27 March 2020.

Forthcoming welcomes cancelled - Magistrates' Court of Victoria

Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

In light of recommended measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria has cancelled all forthcoming ceremonial welcomes.
The following welcomes will be rescheduled on a date to be fixed:

Her Honour Magistrate Bhai
Her Honour Magistrate Victoria Campbell
His Honour Magistrate Andrew Halse
Her Honour Magistrate Elizabeth Langdon
Her Honour Magistrate Helen Murphy
Her Honour Magistrate Kristen Rose

Victorian Bar Member CPD Events

Due to current concerns with COVID-19, you will see that some CPD seminars are being postponed. Where possible, CPDs will be filmed and made available on our electronic platforms.  In the meantime, attendance is not required.

VicBar Life
The Essoign Club - Taking care of business and you

To All Essoign Members,

We would like to thank you for all your support in the Club and understanding of recent operational adjustments we have made in order to improve how we look after you.

Recent changes that are in place until further notice include:

- cashless method of payment, effective immediately

- no reusable keep cups, effective immediately

- no newspapers will be provided from Monday the 23rd of March

- sanitizer station available for all members to access

Victorian Bar sporting calendar

The Health and Well-being Committee is putting together a sporting calendar for the Bar. The calendar will be a place where organisers of sporting teams and events can register their upcoming events and invite other members of the Bar to participate.

At present, the Committee is inviting team and event organisers to contact Matthew Meng (ext 7828; to register their team and event details for the 2020 calendar year.

Member Benefits Australia - March exclusive member offers

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

Calling all francophones

Plans are underway to start a VicBar French Conversation Club. Members will gather at a central location to practise their French over some Brie and Beaujolais. If you are interested, please email Hadi Mazloum by clicking here.

Australian War Crimes Trials Breakfast Seminar - Postponed

The breakfast seminar on Australian War Crimes Trials Post World War II with guest Speaker Adam Wakeling has been postponed to a later date.

Information will be published in the future with updated information.

RACV Club special offer for VicBar members

A special introductory offer for Vic Bar members wanting to join the RACV Club ends on 31 March 2020.

If you join before 31 March 2020, 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.

Practice & Profession News
Second edition of the Federal Sentencing Guide now available on the CDPP website

The CDPP is pleased to announce the release of the 2nd Edition of the Federal Sentencing Guide, which is now available on the CDPP website.

The 2nd Edition contains updates to most chapters and some completely new sections. The revisions were prepared by counsel Desmond Lane, with assistance from counsel Michael Wilson, both from the Victorian Bar.

A list of what is new is contained within the new edition of the Guide.

It is anticipated that a further, shorter update will follow in the coming months.

This new edition of the Guide is intended as a comprehensive resource not only for CDPP lawyers, but for all legal practitioners, judicial officers, and others who deal with the sentencing of Federal offenders.

Notice of termination of Mr Alan Splatt as Manager of Alexander Whitehouse & Co

Regarding the Victorian Legal Services Board’s (‘Board’) appointment of Mr Alan Splatt as Manager of Alexander Whitehouse & Co (‘Law Practice’), pursuant to section 334 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria).

Please accept this letter as notice that Mr Splatt’s appointment as Manager of the Law Practice terminated on 2 March 2020, because the term of the appointment came to an end and the Law Practice has been wound up.

If you wish to discuss this matter further with the Board, please contact Chantelle Toussaint on 03 9679 8165 or at

Sentencing Manual improvements continue

The Judicial College has released new updates to the Victorian Sentencing Manual this week, including four offence-specific chapters on murder, manslaughter, indictable driving and sexual offences.

The College has also enhanced the Manual’s print functionality with downloadable documents.

Find out more:

Coronavirus and the Courts

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a substantial impact on courts all around Australia. The Judicial College has created a resource page to help courts, and court users, understand the different practices that have been put in place across the jurisdictions

Access the resource:

Careers & Opportunities
Judicial Registrar Appointments

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Honourable Anne Ferguson, seeks expressions of interest from qualified persons for appointment as a judicial registrar of the Supreme Court.


Judicial registrars are members of the Court, appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney-General. There are currently two judicial registrar positions vacant at the Supreme Court of Victoria.

View the position descriptions on the Legal Careers website:

Judicial Registrar – Criminal Division

Judicial Registrar - Commercial


All expressions of interest must be received by no later than close of Business on Monday 6 April 2020.

The positions are located in Melbourne. All expressions of interest are treated confidentially. Enquiries can be made to Viv MacGillivray on (03) 8600 2403.

Expressions of interest marked ‘Private and Confidential’ should be addressed to:

The Honourable Chief Justice Anne Ferguson

Supreme Court of Victoria

210 William Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

Alternatively, they can be sent by email to Ms Viv MacGillivray, Executive Associate to the Chief Justice,

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 26th March 2020