In Brief Issue #962

Wendy Harris QC

Supporting the Community, the Courts and the Profession

This week has been a momentous one for the Victorian Bar. Yesterday, we welcomed 48 bright, exceptional and enthusiastic individuals as new barristers. Individually, they opted to join the Bar to continue their careers serving their clients and the community in our college of independent legal advisors. Collectively, they bring to the Bar considerable and diverse professional and personal experience from government, sporting, public, corporate and academic sectors. Many have studied interstate or overseas and a number are fluent in other languages.

But what is unique about this group is what I have seen demonstrated from day one of the Course – 5 March 2020. Because from that day, as the government stepped up measures to contain coronavirus, our lives began to change in ways we never imagined. The following Friday, the Readers voted unanimously to continue the Course, and, when we were ultimately all forced into working remotely, they stepped up to the task with dedication, optimism, tenacity, adaptability and technological prowess as they completed more than 50 of the 140-odd sessions via videoconference. We welcome them to the Victorian Bar. The attributes they demonstrated throughout the Course will stand them in good stead as they embark on what I’m sure will be flourishing careers at the Bar.

The novelty and challenges of the environment that our new barristers are entering, and in which we are working, were highlighted by the Honourable Anne Ferguson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, in the second of the Victorian Bar’s “In Conversation” webinar series with members of the judiciary, held last night.

Her Honour spoke with us about some of the obstacles that the Courts faced in devising new ways of working with social distancing in place, explained how the Courts and the profession have collaborated to find solutions to keep the wheels of justice turning, and shared some of her personal challenges during the last few months. The Chief Justice acknowledged the creativity, responsiveness and dedication of court staff and the legal profession, and expressed her gratitude for the collaborative attitude of our Bar.  Her Honour made the point that, if there is one lesson learned, it is that we don’t need to rigidly keep doing things just because that’s the way things have always been. Of course, the value of in-person hearings and the role of the professional advocate are undiminished, but the present experience offers opportunities for the way we work in the future. For those of you who missed it, the recording of the webinar is here.

Her Honour also reminded us of the profession’s wider obligations to ensure justice is served in the community in these difficult times. In that sentiment, the Pro Bono Committee has asked me to pass on Justice Connect’s call for barristers with expertise, or interest, in employment and tenancy law, and can participate in Fair Work conciliations by direct brief, to register their interest by completing the Expression of Interest form on the pro bono page on the Victorian Bar member website.

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, demand from individuals, families and community organisations has doubled since the start of March and Justice Connect has put an interim service response in place to deal with that. You can contact Justice Connect via this email for more information.

In the conversation with the Chief Justice, and in listening to some of the questions posed, I was struck by the sense of optimism and collaboration across the legal profession, not only in Victoria, but across Australia, and indeed the globe. To this point, I am very pleased to share the new guide from the Inns of Court College of Advocacy that Professor the Hon. Clyde Croft AM SC, a member of the Victorian Bar, assisted in compiling. There has been a tremendous sharing of information and resources – from the courts and throughout the profession – and I’m very grateful that members of our Victorian Bar have been taking a lead in this.

I’m also delighted that, despite now being up to #35 in COVID-19 updates from the Bar, members continue to read them and I thank those who have expressed their appreciation. I’ve seen many members sharing thoughts about new court procedures on social media, and there is a lively discussion on chat lines about the emerging COVID-19 jurisprudence as courts apply these to real situations, with real consequences for individuals involved in the justice system.

Thank you to every member who has contributed their time and wisdom to supporting the Courts, the profession and the community in these difficult times.

Vicbar News & Events
New Court Security Clearing Protocols – Please take your VicBar ID card or (if you don’t have one) a printed copy of your ID letter

Court Security Officers (CSO) have been directed of the following condition with respect to exemptions for legal practitioners from security entrance requirements:

  • Legal Practitioners will be asked to display their identification card to the CSO at the entry to security screening point of court venues.
  • CSOs must not touch the identification card(s). 
  • The identification must be displayed in such a way that the CSO can be satisfied that the identity of the legal practitioner displaying the identification is the same as the identification card.
  • In the event that the Legal Practitioner is unable to produce an identification card, a hard copy identification letter (example attached) including a photo of the person will be accepted.
  • The CSO may ask the Legal Practitioner for additional identification (that includes a name and photograph) so the CSO can be satisfied that the identity of the legal practitioner displaying the identification card or identification letter is the same as the identification card/ or ID Letter (face to ID check).

Court Services Victoria have asked all members who are using the Victorian Bar identity letter to fast-track through court security clearance to please take a printed copy of the letter, and not rely on an electronic version on your phone or device. This it to avoid security staff coming close to individuals and handling phones and devices. Members will be soon issued with Victorian Bar identity cards to facilitate security clearance.

Practising Certificate Renewals

The practising certificate (PC) renewals cycle for 2020/21 has opened.

You will have received an email from the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) outlining details of the PC and PII renewal process.

Information on renewing practising certificates can be found on the VicBar website here.

Links for online lodgement of your renewal are available through your member home page or you may go directly to LSB Online and LPLC website. Login to LSB Online and LPLC renewal portals using your Practitioner Number as the username (your Practitioner Number is published in the email sent to you by the VLSB+C or you can contact the Victorian Bar office for assistance). If you experience technical difficulties, please contact the LSB Online help desk by email in the first instance.

The LSB Online service deals with all PC administrative matters. There is no printed PC renewal form. Should you require assistance renewing your PC, the Victorian Bar office can help you to access and use LSB Online. Members who need assistance should email or leave a message with Susan Lawrence on 9225 7105 or Daphne Ioannidis on 9225 8326.

The LPLC requires payment of the professional indemnity insurance (PII) premium by 31 May 2020. Information regarding PII was distributed to members today. Practitioners are encouraged to renew online.

Law Week 2020 and the Victorian Bar – Free online events for legal professionals and the broader community

The Victorian Law Foundation invites you to participate in Law Week (18-24 May) by attending its online events, which cater to both legal professionals and the broader community. The program includes informative webinars, on-demand interviews and panel discussions, podcasts, virtual exhibitions, and much more!

The Victorian Bar is hosting these free online sessions, which are now open for registration:

Explore the key legal issues of today, discover how the legal sector is managing new challenges, and meet the people who help resolve your legal issues, shape and enforce our laws.

Check out the Law Week program today.


Nominations for Law Council Standing Committee: Business & Human Rights Committee

The Bar Council is seeking nominations for appointment to the LCA Business and Human Rights Committee as an alternate member to Peter Willis SC.

The Law Council’s Business and Human Rights Committee was established by the Executive in September 2014. It was formed to develop a policy focus in the emerging field of business and human rights law, consider how the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles) can be implemented by Australian law firms, and raise awareness about the Guiding Principles for the legal profession.

Items on the Business and Human Rights Committee agenda include:

  • developing networks with government, industry associations and key stakeholders to understand their work on business and human rights
  • providing feedback to government on the role of the legal profession in the implementation of the Guiding Principles
  • organising events on the Guiding Principles and their applicability to the legal profession
  • liaising with the Law Council’s Constituent Bodies on their engagement with business and human rights issues
  • supporting the development of a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Australia
  • utilising the Law Council’s Special Consultative Status to attend and participate in relevant UN business and human rights events, and
  • looking at how business and human rights training can be incorporated into legal education.

The Committee typically meets 3–4 times per year, with one face to face meeting, and the others by telephone conference. Additionally, the Committee shares information regularly by email.

The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of Vic Bar members to external bodies can be viewed here. You are encouraged to provide a detailed expression of interest, which should identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise. This will assist the Bar Council to select the best candidate for the position.

Please forward your expression of interest to Denise Bennett at The closing date for EOIs is 4:00pm, Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

Nominations for Law Council Standing Committee: Rural, Regional and Remote Committee

The Bar Council is seeking nominations from interested members for appointment to the LCA Rural, Regional and Remote Committee.

The Committee will focus on developing strategies and policies aimed at addressing the challenges faced by RRR lawyers and the communities they service, including, but not limited to:

  • recruiting and retaining lawyers
  • general shortages of lawyers in RRR areas
  • conflict of interest problems due to scarcity of locally available lawyers, and
  • scarce and over-stretched legal assistance services.

The Committee’s work will also focus on promoting the important role of RRR lawyers and the significant contribution they make to servicing the legal needs of RRR communities.

The Committee will meet as required to perform its functions. The Committee will normally meet by telephone, but may also hold face-to-face meetings when appropriate.

The Law Council Executive will consider the nominations received and the Committee will be formed, with a view to holding its first meeting by July 2020.

The Terms of Reference for the Committee is available here.

The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of Vic Bar members to external bodies can be viewed here. You are encouraged to provide a detailed expression of interest, which should identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise. This will assist the Bar Council to select the best candidate for the position.

Please forward your expression of interest to Denise Bennett at The closing date for EOIs is 4:00pm, Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

COVID-19 Resources Weekly Update

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.

Below is a summary of relevant updates and resources that were made available to you during the past week:

  • The LPLC is providing free online training (1 CPD point in Practice Management and Business Skills) to insured barristers to understand and manage cyber risks. Produced in conjunction with Law & Cyber, it is designed to improve your knowledge and understanding of current cyber risks, and how to take steps to protect yourself and clients. You can access the course here.
  • The Inns of Court College of Advocacy has released Principles of Remote Advocacy, which outlines ways in which advocates can most efficiently deploy their professional skills in communication and persuasion in remote working environments. This useful resource is available here.
  • On 5 May, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, announced changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in order to provide boards and companies certainty about how they operate over the next six months. The announcement is available here.
  • The Victorian Bar’s Consolidated Guide to Victorian and Commonwealth Court and Tribunal Responses to COVID-19 is here. Below is a summary of this week’s updates:
    • Magistrates’ Court Practice Directions 8-11 relating to ‘on the papers’ protocols for summary pleas, diversion hearings, unopposed bail variations and indications hearings.
    • Medical Panels’ intention to commence multiple online assessments, with in-person examinations to be conducted when considered necessary (with appropriate safeguards in place).
    • The Federal Court of Australia will conduct a review of the potential breach where the names of some litigants, who had commenced protection visa proceedings in the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit Court, could be accessed on the Commonwealth Courts Portal through Federal Law Search in contravention of section 91X of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). Parties will be notified and the search portal has been temporarily disabled.
    • Federal Court matters removed from the May Full Court are now scheduled for June, July and August. It is anticipated that the Court will have a ‘normal’ Full Court List in August.
New VicBar Social Groups

Sally Flynn QC, Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Committee, has had many encouraging responses about floors and practice groups that have organised get-togethers over Zoom and in private Facebook and LinkedIn groups, as part of the initiative to remain socially connected and check on the emotional well-being of our colleagues when we are not working from chambers. 

New groups you may wish to join:

We want to make sure no barrister is left behind, so please contact Sally at to let her know what your group is doing, or if you need a hand starting a new group or finding one to join.

Microsoft Office 365 migration of remaining @vicbar email accounts – book now

Over the past 12 months, 1,200 barristers' email addresses (half of Victorian Bar email users) have moved from the BCL on-premise email option to the Microsoft Office 365 option.

Given it is a superior solution that is more cost-effective for barristers (with an initial cost saving of 15%), the Victorian Bar has supported the initiative (at no cost to you) to move all remaining email services to this new option over the coming months. For more information and to book your email’s migration, please click here.

BCL Property & Technology Services: COVID-19 restrictions updated services

To ensure the safety and security of all chambers during this challenging time, BCL Property and Technology Services will update their service delivery as of Friday 17 April 2020 until further notice. For information about this update, please see here or contact the BCL Service Desk on 9225 8888.

Returning or recently returned to the Bar?

The Equality & Diversity Committee is holding a Re-engagement discussion from 1:00 to 3:00 on Thursday, 21 May 2020, for members of the Bar currently on, recently returned from, or planning to take extended leave, such as parental or carer's leave. The discussion will cover how to approach practice after a period of leave, refresh knowledge of practice requirements and reconnect with colleagues. Please RSVP by 14 May 2020.

Victorian Bar Member CPD Events

Upcoming CPD events:

You must be a member of the Victorian Bar and logged into the VicBar website to view the following events.

Vicbar Life
Photos of Your New Work Environment

Bar News is looking to document the Victorian Bar’s story during these extraordinary times by compiling a photo-essay portraying our working environments in the time of coronavirus.

What does “working at home” look like for you? Please send us your photo portraits of working at home, using all the creativity you can muster. Whether staged or candid, alone or in company, with or without props, a selfie or a photo taken by someone else in your household, we want to see you at work at home.

Please send your contributions by Friday 15 May 2020 to Remember to ensure photos have a high resolution so they will look great in Bar News.

Victorian Bar Community Choir Term 2 Dates

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

Click here to view the flyer and click here for the registration form.

The Essoign takeaway delivery and home menus

The Essoign would like to thank members for their support during these challenging times.

The Essoign’s opening hours are 7:00am – 4:00pm and its takeaway menu is sent to members daily. Takeaway orders can be picked up or delivered to Chambers.

Email pre-lunch orders for pick up or delivery to by 11:30am.

In addition to the daily takeaway menu, The Essoign also offers:

  • New wine deals are now available to members for delivery or pick-up, only while stocks last. See here for more details.
  • Stock Up For Home menu and Hibernation Packs. See here for a selection of meals and packs, including the Italian Grocery Box, Cheese and Wine Pack and Anzac Biscuit Bake Pack.
  • VIP coffee card only $24 for eight coffees.
  • Essoign Money - buy Essoign Dollars at $50 for the price of $40 or $100 for the price of $80. Can be used from 1 September 2020.

Email if you would like to take advantage of these offers.

Practice & Profession News
Digital Bar Library

The Law Library of Victoria improves access to justice by providing legal information to all eligible Victorian legal practitioners online. Barristers also have access to a range of legal resources on their own computers and devices, via the Digital Bar Library on the Law Library website. You must be a registered user to access this page which provides:

  • Guides to improve your research skills (finding information, using research tools and on specific topics)
  • Subscriber-only publications and databases, and
  • Current and authorised Victorian legislation sets used in Victorian jurisdictions.

All Barristers are eligible to register for access. If you have not already registered, the Library will be in touch with you shortly by email.

The Law Library of Victoria Bulletin is produced fortnightly and summarises the latest legislation and cases for the Victorian jurisdiction, as well as High Court of Australia cases. The bulletin also includes the latest new books added to the Library collection and a selected index of articles from journals received in the Library. To subscribe visit here.

If you are on twitter, follow the library on @lawlibraryvic to be alerted to recent decisions of the Court of Appeal.

Profession CPD & Events
Cyngler Consulting

We at Cyngler Consulting hope that you and your families have been able to stay healthy in these very difficult times.

Some of you, your family or friends may not only be restricted to home for work and social distancing reasons but may also have a much reduced workload.

This can create a challenge as to how best to utilise your time and manage your budget.

In recognition of these challenges we have commenced online learning platforms in National Mediator Accreditation courses, Mediation Masterclasses and tailored programs for groups and individuals wanting to enhance skills in mediation, conflict management and listening.

All programs until the COVID-19 crisis is resolved will be at 40% off our scheduled rates.

If it’s been some time since your last training consider joining one of our programs to refresh and enhance your skills and capacity.

If you are working for an organisation or government, talk to us about a tailored program we can develop to support you and your team.

Please click here for details of our 6 day National Mediator Accreditation course scheduled in late July / early August which will be conducted as online learning.

Send us an email on or give Jim a call on 0412 108 390 to discuss your training needs.

Careers & Opportunities
Employment Opportunity: Lawyer – Common Law Division, Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Join a team of lawyers in the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria and support the Principal Judge and other judicial officers of the Division to manage class actions, major torts and professional liability proceedings.
  • Operations focus – full-time - ongoing – VPS Grade 4 – CBD location.
  • Legal qualification required.

The Supreme Court of Victoria seeks a legally qualified person to fill an ongoing full-time position as a Lawyer in its Common Law Division to support judicial officers managing class actions and other proceedings in the Major Torts and Professional Liability Lists.

This is a specialist role and presents an exciting opportunity to work in the Supreme Court of Victoria and gain invaluable experience in its civil jurisdiction and closely observe the work of advocates and the judiciary. The role will entail exposure to large-scale, complex and high-profile litigation, with some administrative responsibilities within the Court.

The role provides support to the Principal Judge of the Common Law Division, currently Justice John Dixon, and other judicial officers of the Division in managing class actions, major torts and professional liability cases. It entails significant responsibilities in liaising with practitioners and other persons, both in relation to casework and broader divisional and external business.

The role also involves a range of legal and administrative responsibilities including legal research and analysis of case law, clerking in court, assisting with drafting, editing and publishing judgments, rulings and orders; liaising with litigants and managing specialist class action resources and databases. It requires excellent legal research, teamwork and organisational skills, a practical understanding of litigation, and a high degree of initiative and self-direction.

To be successful in this role you should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of class action procedures and have an ability to work in a high performing team in a complex working environment.

Applicants require a legal qualification and will preferably have a minimum of two years’ post-admission experience in litigation. Exceptional applications reflecting less extensive experience will also be considered.

Duties include:

  • Performing a range of legal responsibilities, including clerking in court during trials and other hearings, and providing legal research and assistance for judgment-writing.
  • Responsibility for case monitoring of class actions in the Common Law Division.
  • Working with the Associates to the Judges in Charge of the Major Torts and Professional Liability Lists and the Common Law Judicial Registrar in case monitoring and administration of matters in these lists.
  • Assisting judges with speeches and presentations about class actions law and practice.
  • Responsibility for the Court’s internal class actions knowledge bank.
  • Arranging for provision of specialist class action resources, including in relation to discovery, expert conclaves and e-trials.
  • Acting as a point of contact and reporting to judges of the Common Law Division regarding class actions research projects.

For further information on this position and to submit your application, please visit the website. Applications close 14 May 2020.

The Australian Academy of Law Annual Essay Prize

The Australian Academy of Law is pleased to announce its Annual Essay Prize for 2020The essay topic for the Prize is “The impact of a new and widespread contagious disease on pre-existing contractual obligations.” Note that previous ‘new’ outbreaks of infectious diseases may be taken into account. The Prize amount is $10,000 and the submission deadline is strictly 31 August 2020.  Rules for eligibility and submission can be found here.

BFSLA 2020 Research Essay Competition

Entries for the Banking & Financial Services Law Association’s 2020 Research Essay prize are now open.

The BFSLA is the leading professional organisation for banking and financial services law in Australia and New Zealand. The BFSLA’s objectives include the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge of banking and financial services law and practice in Australia and New Zealand, including by encouraging research.

To that end, each year the BFSLA invites citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand to submit research essays on important matters in banking and financial services law and/or practice (including insolvency) that are currently topical in Australia or New Zealand, in competition for a prize pool. This year’s prize pool is $5,000.

Entries must be submitted by 5:00pm (AEST) on Friday, 31 July 2020. The winner or winners, if any, will be announced by publication on the Association’s website on Friday, 4 September 2020.

More information about the competition is available here, and terms and conditions are available here.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 14th May 2020