In Brief Issue #963

Katherine Lorenz

Opportunities lost and found

#StayApartTogether is a popular hashtag that has inspired many communities to pool their resources even as they remain physically distant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have seen many instances of VicBar members staying apart but being together over the past two months, as we’ve navigated from opportunities lost to those found.

The courts, of course, have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – but each of the heads of jurisdiction who have joined us “In Conversation” over the past few weeks have reiterated that they have found opportunities to be more effective with the flexible tools now available to them.

On Wednesday, we hosted the third of these webinars, featuring an in-depth discussion with the Honourable James Allsop, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, and Wendy Harris QC, President of the Victorian Bar. His Honour made an interesting observation about the dichotomy that we often speak about with “virtual” versus “in person” hearings – he pointed out that people are no less “present” just because they appear on a screen. We need to remember that “virtual” proceedings are as solemn and as important in the settling of matters and administering justice as appearances in the courtroom. Of course, courtroom advocacy is critical to the administration of justice in many circumstances. Whatever practices are adopted in the future, we hope for a return to the courtroom very soon to ensure that best practice advocacy is maintained. You can view the recording of the webinar here

Next Friday was to be the evening of the Victorian Bar’s annual dinner. Like many members, I was looking forward to circulating with colleagues and reliving the events of the past year. Unfortunately, the dinner has been postponed – but the Victorian Bar is hosting four webinars as part of Law Week next week that give us the opportunity to come together and celebrate some of the best of the Bar in the past and present, and to look to the future.

If you’re a history buff, you can join Peter Jopling AM QC, Campbell F Thomson, Siobhan Ryan and Daniel Kinsey from the Victorian Bar’s Art & Collections Committee as they go Zooming in on the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery with a virtual tour of some of the gallery’s acquisitions and the fascinating stories behind them. Or join Rob Heath QC and fellow Friends of St Kilda Cemetery on A Legal Zoom in St Kilda Cemetery, a virtual tour of famous former members of the Bar who are interred there.

If you’re interested in what the present and future holds for barristers, the Equality & Diversity Committee will present Must Love Coffee (and Know How to Zoom). Join them as they explore the privileges, perils and percolations of life as a Victorian barrister in the age of COVID-19.

Coronavirus continues to be a relentless presence in our lives, but if you’re like me, your thirst for knowledge on the subject remains steadfast. So, if you’re wondering about the nuts and bolts of how the government can exercise its emergency powers to protect us from this pandemic, barrister Dr Michael Taylor will be able to answer all your questions in the Law Week event, Public Health and Public Order: Emergency Powers and the COVID-19 Pandemic Response.

The sharing of knowledge and news has been a key factor in ensuring we stay together. VicBar members have been keen to publish their research, too. For a national view of COVID-19 laws, barristers Emrys Nekvapil, Maya Narayan and Stephanie Brenker have published a new guide to COVID-19 and the Law of Australia.  And Professor Patrick Keyzer, Research Professor in Law and Public Policy at La Trobe University and Member of the Victorian Bar, is hosting a new podcast series on the ABC, revisiting five cases that had particular impact on our nation in Section 71: High Court Cases That Changed Australia.

Although we talk of “social distancing”, we should think of it, rather, as physical distancing. Taking part in events such as these above, and staying in touch with latest developments, means that we will #StayApartTogether and help each other, members of the profession and the community remain socially and intellectually enriched through these challenging days.

Vicbar News & Events
Practising Certificates - renew your PII insurance before 31 May

The practising certificate (PC) renewals cycle for 2020/21 has been extended to 30 June for renewal of our PC without incurring a surcharge from the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner. However, your PC will not be issued until you have taken out compulsory professional indemnity insurance (PIII) with the LPLC.

The LPLC requires that you renew your PII premium by 31 May 2019 and practitioners are encouraged to renew online.

Information regarding PII was distributed to members several weeks ago and included notification that you have the option of deferring payment of your premium until 30 November.

Links for online lodgement of your renewal are available through your member home page here, or you may go directly to LSB Online and LPLC website. Login to both 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).

Should you require assistance renewing your PC or PII, please email or leave a message with Susan Lawrence on 9225 7105 or Daphne Ioannidis on 9225 8326.

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

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.


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 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 has 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 is 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.

Women Barristers Association (WBA) – Notice of Annual General Meeting (AGM)

WBA’S AGM will be held on Tuesday 9 June 2020 at 1:00pm via Zoom. A Zoom invitation will be sent to all members.

Attached to this notice are:

  1. draft agenda for this meeting
  2. committee nomination form, and
  3. proxy form.

At the meeting, members will have the opportunity to:

  1. discuss WBA activities for the past year
  2. discuss WBA finances for the past year
  3. nominate for a committee position
  4. vote on any resolutions proposed, and
  5. discuss any general business arising.

At the meeting, members will be asked to vote in respect of the following:

  1. accept the minutes of the last annual general meeting
  2. accept the Convener’s annual report
  3. accept the Treasurer’s annual report and presentation of financial statement from the previous year
  4. accept other office bearers reports
  5. election of the following committee positions:
    1. Convener
    2. Assistant Conveners (x2)
    3. Treasurer
    4. Secretary
    5. Assistant Secretary, and
    6. Ordinary members of the Committee.

Please note, copies of the Convener’s annual report, Treasurer’s annual report and minutes, and any other office bearers’ reports will be disseminated by email to WBA members by 4.00 pm, Friday 5 June 2020.

If any member wishes to add an item to the agenda for discussion at the AGM, please email Louise Martin ( or Veronica Holt ( by 4:00pm Tuesday 26 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:

  • On 5 May 2020, the Federal Treasurer announced changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) that may be of interest to any member in their capacity as a non-executive director or advisor to boards. The announcement is available here.
  • The Australian Advocacy Institute has produced a webinar on Communication in the Virtual Courtroom that may be helpful to members. It can be streamed from the AAI website 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:

  • In response to COVID-19, the Magistrates’ Court has published Practice Directions No. 12 and 13 of 2020.
  • The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia provided an update on three projects relating to the protection of vulnerable parties and children in family law proceedings. This involves early identification of risk, information sharing, and appropriate triage and case management of family law matters involving allegations of child abuse or family violence.

Judicial College - Coronavirus Resources

The Judicial College has developed several new resources to assist judicial officers and the profession stay up-to-date with the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the legal system.

  • Judge Alone Trial Applications provides a summary of new legislation and existing case law on judge-alone criminal trials to assist Victoria’s courts and practitioners.
  • Coronavirus and Judicial Wellbeing provides a curated selection of resources to help support the wellbeing of the judiciary and broader community during the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Coronavirus Jurisprudence tracks the developing impact of coronavirus on the common law, whether it be in the area of bail, sentencing, the decision to grant a trial by judge alone, or otherwise.
  • Coronavirus Emergency Act Summary provides a concise overview of the temporary emergency measures affecting the justice system that were recently passed by the Victorian government.
  • Coronavirus and the Courts looks at the nationwide operational impacts of the virus, such as limits on in-person hearings and security and hygiene measures, and is intended to help courts and court users understand the different practices that have been put in place across the jurisdictions.

The College will continue to add to these resources and ensure that they are updated regularly so please continue to check the College website.

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.

Victorian Bar Member CPD Events

The following are CPD events for members of the Victorian Bar. You must be a member of the Victorian Bar and logged into the VicBar website to view these events.

  • On Tuesday 19 May 2020, the Tax Bar Association will present BHP Billiton Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation – “Sufficient Influence in Commercial Dealings”. In this webinar, you’ll hear from an expert panel – including two counsel who appeared in this matter before the High Court – as they discuss the decision and key implications for taxpayers. You can register for this webinar here.
  • Barristers wishing to become an accredited mediator under the National Mediator Accreditation System can register for the Lawyers Mediation Certificate (LMC) six-day course here.
  • On Tuesday 19 May 2020, Pardeep Tiwana and Dr Gideon Boas will present New Child Sex Offence Legislation (NSW) and the Tendency Law Debate. In this webinar, the proposed NSW Bill which expressly and aggressively lowers further the threshold for admissibility of tendency evidence relating to child sex offences, will be discussed. Given these changes will likely be followed in Victoria, the presenters will explore whether the threshold is too low or not low enough in the context of both modern tendency law and common law.  You can register for this webinar here.
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.

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.
  • Club Retail - Grab and go essentials are available in the Club.

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

Member Benefits Australia - May exclusive member offers

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

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.

Careers & Opportunities
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.

Have you acted in an online or phone hearing? Please share your story

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen our civil courts and tribunals rapidly shift online. There is an urgent need for evidence about how new approaches involving phone and online hearings are working.

The Australian Centre for Justice Innovation (Monash Law) and the Legal Issues Centre (Otago Law) are keen to hear from practitioners who have participated in remote hearings about their experiences.

You can anonymously share your story at With your consent, your story can be posted online. You can also choose to participate in an interview. Sharing your experiences will help shape an understanding of the use of remote hearings, including in post-pandemic times.

If you have any queries, please contact A/Prof Genevieve Grant (

Deputy Director, Centre for Legal Studies at the University of Tasmania

An opportunity exists for appointment as the Deputy Director of the Centre for Legal Studies. The Centre operates the Tasmanian Legal Practice Course which provides practical legal training to law graduates who wish to seek admission to the legal profession. This is a part-time position which offers the opportunity to run a contemporaneous legal practice at the Centre.

Applications close on 3 June 2020.

Please contact the Course Director, Centre for Legal Studies on (03) 6226 4396 or for a position description and selection criteria.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 21st May 2020