In Brief Issue #971

Wendy Harris QC

Sliding doors, common goals

Some of you may remember the crucial scene in the film Sliding Doors, as Gwyneth Paltrow’s character charges towards a London tube – down the stairs, across the platform, squeezing through the train door in the nick of time… or, in the alternate universe arriving a second later, and the doors slide closed in front of her. The film, billed as a romantic comedy, has a deeper narrative about how random events can fundamentally influence our lives. It also highlights that the choices we make in response to events can be as decisive for the future as the events themselves.

This week has been one of hard decisions by the government faced with its own sliding doors moment: decisions that have had enormous ramifications for all of us in our personal and professional lives. I’m sure that many of you, like me, were shocked at the lockdown of Melbourne’s public housing tower blocks and can only imagine the difficulties of those affected.

Many members of the Bar are helping some of the most vulnerable in society during this time. The President of the Children’s Court, her Honour Judge Amanda Chambers, went out of her way to thank the Bar and other private practitioners, magistrates and staff at the DHHS Child Protection Litigation Office for helping the Court meet the needs and expectations of the community, in this week’s In Conversation webinar, hosted by Melissa Stead, Chair of the Children’s Court Bar Association. Judge Chambers spoke of some difficult decisions the Court needed to take to safeguard the community during COVID while maintaining the ability to step in and protect children in need. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here.

The government’s decision to re-impose stage three restrictions in Melbourne this week – and the commensurate moves by courts and tribunals to again restrict in-person hearings – is also terribly disheartening. I know that there is a sentiment among some barristers that commercial silks, like me, are not so affected by the COVID situation, and just don’t understand the plight of those whose work has dried up, or those new barristers who have simply not had the chance to establish their practices. I’d like to emphasise that the Bar Council and I, and the staff at VicBar and BCL, do appreciate the differential impact that this crisis has had on those members of our Bar who are more vulnerable to the financial and other effects which the present circumstances have wrought. We understand that some, particularly at the Criminal Bar, may be seriously considering the viability of their practices, or reappraising their decision to join the Bar.

The uncomfortable truth is that, as leaders of the Bar, we are unable to mitigate the effects of this crisis on our members completely. The resources for that kind of prophylaxis are not available to us. But we are focused on doing what we can. We are doing what we can to understand the pressures on our members, and to alleviate them where we are able to do so: we are, for example, talking to the Criminal Bar Association to see what more we can realistically do to address the issues raised in the survey of its members released earlier this week. We are doing what we can to support BCL in deploying its available resources to provide rental relief to those most in need: this is critical to ensuring that we come out the other side of this crisis with the strong culture and institutions of our college – those that support the accessibility of the Bar without wealth or cultural barriers to entry, the diversity of our membership, and inclusion for all – intact. We are doing what we can to stretch and apply the Bar’s own resources, including by making cuts and sacrifices that allowed us to provide subscription relief to many. We are doing what we can to ensure a return to business as usual – or as close to that as can be managed – by working with the courts and planning our own assistance to members. We are doing what we can to address the health and wellbeing effects of the continued disruption, with specialist seminars and evolving resources.

We will continue to do what we can. It is in the nature of the roles we are performing that the decisions we make, sometimes in those ‘sliding doors’ moments, will not always enjoy universal or even wide support. Our perspectives are necessarily holistic; our focus is on the best interests of the Bar as a whole. Sometimes, no doubt, we will get it wrong. But you have my personal commitment that we will do our best to get it right.

Nevertheless, in the end, this is a collective endeavour. We will have differences in views, but our ultimate goal should be a common one. We need to be pulling on the same oar (and, ideally, in the same direction).

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Vicbar News & Events
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 be delivered via WebEx. It 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. Click here to register for this webinar.
  • Webcam Advocacy and Communication in the Covid era is on Monday 20 July, 5.00-6.00pm and will help you improve your presentation when appearing virtually in court hearings and at conferences: by tailoring your advocacy and communication techniques to the medium, and making the best use of technology so as to prevent it from being a distraction. Click here to register for this webinar.
  • Overview of AFCA and its Role in the Post-Royal Commission World is on Tuesday 21 July, 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. Click here to register for this webinar.
  • Peeling back the layers of injustice and discrimination in the midst of a triple pandemic is on Thursday 23 July, 5.00-6.00pm and will be a discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement, whether there should be a Disadvantage People Matter movement, and the need for legal action. Click here to register for this webinar.

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

COVID-19 Resources Weekly Update and Law Library of Victoria Resources

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 Department of Premier and Cabinet advises that although the government announced that it intends that these restrictions be in place for six weeks, directions under Victoria’s Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 can only be made to apply within a current declared State of Emergency (SOE) period. The current SOE period ends on 19 July 2020. Fresh directions would be issued upon the extension of the SOE, assuming that’s the advice of the Chief Health Officer, Minister and Commissioner.
  • Yesterday, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia issued a statement advising that they remain open by conducting trials and other hearings electronically via telephone or Microsoft Teams. However, all face-to-face hearings in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries are suspended or for at least the next six weeks, unless expressly authorised by the Honourable Chief Justice Alstergren and only in urgent circumstances. The statement is available to read here.
  • The Law Library advised that legal publishers have extended access to their resources to barristers with a Victorian Practising Certificate, some of which are accessible until 30 September 2020. You can access these resources here. The Law Library has collaborated with the Victorian Bar to bring you the following CPD zoom session - (Virtual) Tours of the Digital Bar Library scheduled for Tuesday 28 July 1:15–1:45pm. You can register for the session here.
  • The AAT is taking steps to resume some in-person hearings at all AAT registries except for Melbourne. It is expected that for some time, most AAT hearings and all AAT conferences will continue to be conducted remotely by video conference or telephone. The AAT is taking a staged approach to recommencing in-person hearings because a priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of members, staff, visitors and the wider community. Further details are available on the AAT website 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

The Essoign Club is open daily from 7:00am for takeaway and delivery only while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

Lunch can be Pre Ordered for Delivery or Pick-Up

Lunch delivery and pick-up available daily. The minimum order for delivery is only $10. Order via email to

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

The Essoign would like to thank you for your ongoing support during this time and look forward to having you all back in the club to continue sharing stories, laughs and giving support to all fellow members.

Please continue to support the Club by renewing your Essoign Club Membership.

Email if you have any questions or special requests.

Member Benefits Australia - July exclusive member offers

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

Choir - Term 3 commencing 15 July

Term 3 choir commences Wednesday 15 July for ten weeks. More details about the choir zoom meetings may be found here. Please complete this payment form to enrol.

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
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.

International Bar Association free webinar series

As part of the International Bar Association’s continuing outreach to the global legal community, over the last few months the IBA has facilitated over 50 webinars, covering multiple practice areas and highly topical content.

The International Bar Association invites you to attend its series of forthcoming on-demand free webinars.  

The webinar series is designed to provide updates on international developments in a range of practice areas such as tax, energy and anti-trusts from leading global practitioners. There is also a stream of webinars from the IBA Law Firm Management Committee that has been extremely popular with leading law firms and consultants, helping firms navigate the issues facing them in the current COVID-19 crisis.

More information on this series of webinars is available on the IBA website here.

Law Library of Victoria’s new legal research eLearning sessions

The Law Library of Victoria invites you to attend its online Switch On… information sessions. These 30-minute digital sessions held via Zoom are suited to judicial officers, court staff, legal professionals, law students, and anyone with an interest in law.

The Law Library of Victoria has created a new legal research eLearning course for legal practitioners and court staff, available on the Law Library website. There are two units, Legislation and Case Law, containing seven modules each totalling over two hours of content.

These modules are designed to cater for flexible learning:

  • Users can learn at a time and place of their choosing
  • Users can elect to complete an entire unit and receive a CPD point, or pick and choose individual modules for a refresher on a particular topic, and
  • For micro learners, and those wanting to refer to the information offline, there are downloadable PDF summaries of the major topics.

This online presentation will provide an overview of the new eLearning course and demonstrate the modules, which include videos featuring content from legal publishers.

The Switch On… Legal Research eLearning is a free webinar on Thursday 16 July 2020, 1:15-1:45pm. You can register 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 view the leaflet here.

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.
Careers & Opportunities
Job Vacancy: Legal and Policy Officer - Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Victoria’s highest court is seeking an experienced lawyer to provide legal and policy support to judicial officers of the Common Law Division. 
  • Legal research & policy focus - fixed term to 11 June 2021 – VPS Grade 4 – CBD location.
  • Legal qualification required.
  • Location: Melbourne CBD.

An opportunity exists for an experienced lawyer to provide significant legal, policy and administrative support to the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The Legal & Policy Officer works closely with the Principal Judge, Judicial Registrar and Deputy Registrars of the Division to undertake and coordinate research, policy advice and reports on areas of priority to the Court to ensure its smooth running and to identify and address emerging issues and trends in litigation.

For further information on this position and to submit your application, please visit by Monday 20 July 2020.

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, 16th July 2020