In Brief Issue #970

Katherine Lorenz

If you go down to the café today…

I’m sure that many of you have seen the picture circulating on social media of the Parisian café with giant teddy bears strategically placed to ensure social distancing. If you haven’t, you can read about it here. The bears sit at tables, apparently in mid-conversation, with cutlery, glasses and serviettes laid out before them. The humans in the café seem almost as interlopers in this Ursidae gathering of brown fluffiness. I was captivated by the photo I saw – I was impressed with the café owner’s inventiveness which made physical distancing seem a bit less alienating, and intrigued by my reaction, and others who commented on social media about it.

Now that we have passed the three-month mark on our COVID-19-induced isolation, many of us are becoming normalised to the new social conventions. We avoid hugging friends and shaking hands, clear a path for others in the supermarket or on the street, use copious hand sanitiser and, although few of us will confess to this, keep an eagle eye on our canned tomato, pasta and toilet paper supplies, ready to pounce at the first indication of a rush on supplies. These are the probably the easy parts of lockdown to which we have adapted.

The disruption, uncertainty and anxiety of these “unprecedented” times – on our health, our finances, our careers and our relationships – are the most difficult to endure.

I have had many emails and conversations with members over the past three months about what more the Bar can do to support members. We are in regular contact with government departments to ensure that ministers are appraised of the effect the pandemic is having on our profession. We also speak regularly with the courts about their plans to open up – and our “In Conversation” webinar series has provided the opportunity for the Heads of Jurisdiction to explain the constraints that they are under and how they plan to move forward. For those who have missed these, the recordings are on the VicBar website news page here. The President of the Children’s Court, Her Honour Judge Amanda Chambers, is “In Conversation” with Melissa Stead next Tuesday afternoon – register here if you’d like to attend.

It has of course been very disappointing that the recent outbreak has caused more disruption to the judicial system – with in-person hearings suspended in Melbourne and Dandenong Family and Federal Circuit Courts. As part of this “new normal”, I fear that we are going to have to accept that there will be rolling temporary closures of courts, schools, businesses and entertainment venues going forward.

There is also a lot more COVID-19 testing going on – not only in the postcodes identified by the government as being of particular concern, but for many more people as we feel the steely grip of winter bring on sniffles and colds. Please, if you have any cold or flu symptoms, get tested and email VicBar to let us know so that we can alert BCL and take precautionary action, which includes informing those on your floor and undertaking a deep clean if you test positive. You will notice that several floors in chambers are on restricted access to minimise the potential for the virus to spread should someone be infected – it does not mean that anyone on those floors has been exposed to the virus. Through contact tracing, you will be alerted if you have been in contact with someone infected. Remember that the government’s advice remains that if you can work from home, you must work from home. 

This lockdown has lasted longer, and has been more intense, than any of us imagined. None of us are immune to its economic and social effects – as we are not immune to the virus itself. I hope that many of you will be able to take some vacation time and, whether you can or not, that you find some respite from the challenges this situation has wrought and enjoy some time with family and friends. If you are finding it difficult to cope and would like to talk to a professional counsellor, remember that the Bar has two independent services for members and their families, details of which are on the VicBar member Health & Wellbeing page here.

And keep those teddy bears in mind, picnicking in the café in the 13th arrondissement. They can’t help but make you smile.

Vicbar News & Events
Pro bono platform update

As you are aware, the Victorian Bar’s new online pro bono platform, which administers court-based pro bono referrals to barristers, launched two weeks ago. The platform is working very well.  Most matters are being picked up very quickly—sometimes within minutes—including by members who were not previously enrolled in our court-based pro bono schemes. 

Members who wish to receive notifications for pro bono work in their areas of interest, outside of their usual practice areas, can quickly & easily update their pro bono preferences on the platform.

Once you are logged into the platform, you will be able to alter the areas of pro bono work you are willing to accept, if this differs from the practice areas on your VicBar website member profile. Changes to the platform will not affect your VicBar member profile. This is because the two environments operate entirely separately. To log into the platform, please click here.

If you require any assistance logging in or tailoring your practice area preferences to your needs, please contact Daniel Cousens.

Appointment – Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have announced the appointment of:

Mr Rohan Hoult

as Senior Registrar, based in the Melbourne registry.

The appointment is effective from 13 July 2020.

Review of the current CPD requirements for lawyers in Victoria

What is your experience of CPD in your career?

What are the strengths of the current system and what opportunities are there for improvement?

The Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner has commissioned an independent consultant to conduct a review of the current CPD arrangements in Victoria. The VLSB+C is keen to hear from lawyers at any stage of their career. Submissions close 5pm, 3 July 2020.

For more information on how you can make a submission or participate in a focus group, click here.

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

Security Entrance Requirements

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 or letter to the CSO at the entry to security screening point of court venues.
  • CSOs must not touch the identification cards or letters. 
  • 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).

For any queries relating to ID cards, such as obtaining a new card or collecting an existing card if you do not have a clerk, please contact

Victorian Bar Member CPD Events

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

  • The Online Magistrates’ Court (OMC) is on Tuesday 14 July, 4:00-5:00pm and will explain how the OMC works, the use of WebEx, what matters will be heard, how to get matters listed, time limits and where clients or witnesses appear from. Register for this webinar here.
  • The three-part Expert Evidence Workshop is a good opportunity to conference with, examine and cross-examine, expert witnesses in guided simulations. The webinars will run for two hours on Wednesday 15 July, 22 July and 29 July. Register for this webinar here.
  • Overview of AFCA and its Role in the Post-Royal Commission World is on Tuesday 21 July 2020, 4:30-5:30pm and will provide an overview of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s first 18 months of operations, since its establishment in November 2018 as a ‘one-stop shop’ to deal with financial services complaints. Register for this webinar here.
  • (Virtual) Tour of the Digital Bar Library is a 30-minute online tour on Tuesday 28 July at 1:15pm designed for Victorian Bar members to learn how to access resources remotely and where to find curated content. Register for this webinar here.

For more upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings here.

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 28 June 2020, the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced new mandatory testing for all returned travellers in hotel quarantine. The full announcement is available here.
  • On 24 June 2020, the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia issued the following updated protocols:
    • Child Dispute Services (CDS) In-person Interview Protocol – available here
    • Update to the Profession – COVID-19 Registrar and Child Dispute Services Listing Measures and Arrangements – available here, and
    • all face-to-face hearings in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries of the Courts are be suspended until further notice. The updated protocol of 12 June 2020 for in-person hearings for these Courts is available here.
  • The Judicial College’s new Judge Alone Trial Proceedings publicationdiscusses relevant legislation and issues concerning adequacy of reasons, directions and warnings, and judicial practice in the conduct of a criminal judge alone trial. The resource is available here.
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 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. 

The Committee is seeking expressions of interest from barristers interested in setting up a WhatsApp group to connect those barristers who are carers. The group is for barristers who care for elderly or disabled parents or relatives and will allow members to offer each other support by sharing information or resources for various issues, including finding alternative living arrangements or home assistance. Please contact Sally Flynn by email if you’re interested.

Other 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.

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.

City West Water – Construction Notification

On Monday 29 June 2020, City West Water established a new works compound (measuring 1-metre-wide and 40-metre-long) at the intersection of Lonsdale Street and Spencer Street. General construction noise at the Spencer Street works site can typically be expected on weekdays from 7am to 6pm and on Saturdays from 7am to 3pm. On occasions, 24-hour construction work including throughout the weekend, may be required. More information about the impact on surrounding areas and traffic flow can be found here.

Vicbar Life
The Essoign Club

Breakfast – Dine-in or Takeaway

Breakfast is available daily from 7:00am to 11:30am – see the menu here.

Lunch – Pre Order Delivery or Pick-Up

Lunch delivery and pick-up available daily. The minimum order for delivery is only $10. Order via email to Please have orders in by 11:30am so the team can organise your delivery.  

The delivery time is between 12:00pm and 1:30pm - the Club can be flexible with these timings, when possible.

In addition to the menu we have coffee, juices, soft drinks, beer or wine.

Lunch – Dine-in

Dine in lunch is available midday to 4:00pm – see the menu here.

Bookings via email to by midday on the day.

Walk-ins are welcome!

$10 Swine & Dine offer from 4:00pm daily

Private Dinner Party – Tailored Package

Bookings via email to – only two business days’ notice is required to organise your event.

The Essoign would like to thank you for your ongoing support during this time. Please continue to support the Club by renewing your Essoign Club Membership.

Email if you have any questions or special requests.

Practice & Profession News
County Court surveys about your experience using Zoom for hearings

Over the last several months the Commercial Division of the County Court has heard a significant number of matters by Zoom. The County Court is now seeking feedback from court users to better understand their experience of using Zoom when appearing in County Court matters. In order to get this feedback from the court users, the Division has developed surveys for court users to complete after appearing by Zoom.

There are four surveys, one for each type of hearing:

  • The summonses and directions hearings on Zoom survey is here
  • The pre-trial directions hearings on Zoom survey is here  
  • The commercial division trials on Zoom survey is here
  • The judicial resolution conferences on Zoom survey is here
Legal Services Council – June Newsletter

The Legal Services Council’s June Newsletter (Issue 2, 2020) is available to read here.

Changes to VCAT's Planning & Environment Division

VCAT’s Planning and Environment Division underwent substantial amendments as of 1 July 2020 which will improve how cases are managed. These changes are based on extensive stakeholder feedback and a comprehensive review. They will improve both administration and management of cases with easier and more efficient outcomes for users.  

A new Environment and Resources List catering for the specific needs of applicants and decision-makers involved in environment and natural resources matters has been developed in response to the commencement of the Environment Protection Act 2017 – due to be implemented in 2021.

A number of new application forms have been developed and the list of current Practice Notes has been reduced to six with two remaining notes revised. Information provision has been simplified where possible, with redundant Practice Notes information now more readily available in new fact sheets and on its website here.
A series of fact sheets addressing matters including amendment/cancellation of permits, enforcement orders, environment and resources cases have been prepared, with some fact sheets available later.
A range of new and simplified initiating orders have also been prepared with ease of use a priority, including requirements to file submissions in advance of hearings, streamlining hearings accordingly.
Guidance on New Tribunal Books that can be prepared by parties which contain documents that parties intend to rely on during cases is also provided. These books will be particularly useful in proceedings involving multiple parties and expert witnesses.
Other amendments such as the revamped Short Cases List and amendments to Major Cases List will see further improvements in our ability to process, hear and determine cases more efficiently, leading to better outcomes for the Victorian community.  
An overview of the reforms can be read here.
If you have any questions, please contact

Annual Federal Courts and Tribunals fee increases from 1 July 2020 - Amended

The Annual Federal Courts and Tribunals Fee Increases Gazette Notice published on 9 June 2020 and included in a notice in last week’s edition of In Brief contained a number of small errors. An amended notice has been published in the Government Notices Gazette on 29 June 2020 setting out the new fees payable from 1 July 2020, and is available here. The Attorney-General's Department apologises for any inconvenience.

AAT Fee Increase

A letter from the Registrar of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Sian Leathem, outlining the fee increases from 1 July 2020 for certain applications for review filed with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is available to read here. If you have any queries, please contact the Legal and Policy section of the Tribunal.

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
International Commission of Jurists Victoria Webinar - Human rights, public finance and corruption in Sri Lanka

On 9 July 2020, Felicity Gerry QC will interview Sri Lankan Senior Counsel JC Weliamuna PC about human rights, public finance and corruption in Sri Lanka via Zoom. There will be a question and answer session following the interview. Register on Eventbrite here to receive the Zoom link. More nformation about this webinar is available here.

Deakin Law School Webinar – Corporations and Stakeholders: Codetermination and Employee Democracy post COVID

Deakin Law School invites you to a webinar on, “The best interests of the corporation and the best interests of stakeholders: Are we entering a new era of Codetermination and Employee Democracy after the COVID-19 crisis?”

The Hayne Commission (2019) revealed some shocking abuses and misconduct in the banking and financial services sector in Australia. Internationally there are some serious doubts whether the “shareholder primacy” model of our corporate law model is sustainable. Since 2019, there has been a significant international movement away from shareholder primacy as a corporate law and governance model. In this webinar, Professor Jean du Plessis will discuss the following issues and proposals for law reform in Australia.

Date: Monday 27 July 2020

Time: 5:15pm – 6:45pm (AEST)

Where: Via Zoom

Chair: Dr Ben Saunders, Deakin Law School

Speaker: Professor Jean du Plessis, Professor (Corporate Law), Deakin Law School


  • Professor Mervyn King SC, Chair of the previous South African King Corporate governance Committee and Chair of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).
  • Professor Charlotte Villiers, Professor of Company Law, University of Bristol Law School.
  • Associate Professor Umakanth Varottil, School of Law, National University of Singapore (NUS).

Registration is essential via Eventbrite.

ALRC Future of Law Reform Webinar Series

In 2019, the Australian Law Reform Commission undertook research and broad public consultation to address the future of law reform.

Join expert panels including judges, legal scholars and industry leaders in a series of online conversations to unpack some of the key areas identified by the ALRC, including defamation, automated decision making, legal structures for social enterprises and press freedom. The Future of Law Reform: A Suggested Program of Work 2020-25 report is available here.

These interactive webinars present an opportunity to elicit new perspectives and ideas, enabling individuals with diverse views to contribute to potential law reform.

You can register to attend these webinars here.

Upcoming webinars:

  • The Future of Law Reform: Defamation on Monday 27 July 2020, 1:00-2:00pm. Join an expert panel comprising thought leaders on defamation law addressing questions such as: Should defamation law reform be a priority? What are the particular problems that any future defamation law reform inquiry should seek to solve? What benefits might be expected from reform of defamation law? Register here.
  • Automated Decision Making and Administrative Law on Monday 10 August 2020, 1:00-2:00pm. Join an expert panel comprising thought leaders on automated decision making and administrative law addressing questions such as: Should administrative law reform be a priority in light of increasing automation in decision making by government agencies? What are the particular problems that any future law reform inquiry should seek to solve? What benefits might be expected from reform? Register here.
  • Legal Structure for Social Enterprises on Monday 17 August 2020, 1:00-2:00pm. Social enterprises are businesses that seek to make a profit while also pursuing social and/or environmental goals. Join an expert panel comprising thought leaders on social enterprise addressing questions such as: Should an inquiry into legal structures for social enterprises be a priority? What are the particular problems that any future law reform inquiry should seek to solve? What benefits might be expected from any future reform? Register here.
  • Press Freedom on Monday 24 August 2020, 1:00-2:30pm. Join an expert panel comprising thought leaders on press freedom and national security addressing questions such as: Should an inquiry into press freedom be a priority? What are the particular problems that any future law reform inquiry should seek to solve? What benefits might be expected from any future reform? Register here.
33rd LAWASIA Conference: Notice of Cancellation

LAWASIA, in consultation with the Mongolian Bar Association, has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s 33rd LAWASIA Conference 2020, which was due to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from 7 - 10 September 2020. You can read the cancellation notice here.

Careers & Opportunities
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.

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.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 9th July 2020