In Brief Issue #978

Katherine Lorenz

New beginnings herald a culture shift at the Bar

Last week, we welcomed 35 Readers to the Victorian Bar’s Readers’ Course. Our education team and the Bar Readers’ Course Committee worked hard to produce a course that is the first in Australia to be delivered entirely online and offered during COVID. We’re particularly pleased to have been able to extend our Course to two Readers who will eventually sign the South Australian Bar Roll.

Our new cohort of Readers reflects a diversity of experience and backgrounds – several have occupied senior roles in local and international government agencies, and the group includes graduates from universities across Australia and around the world, including Cambridge, Columbia and Edinburgh. With fluency in Bosnian, Croatian, Farsi, French, Italian, Japanese, Kurdish, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Tagalog, our new Readers will also bring rich cultural diversity to the Bar.

Professional enrichment

Professor the Hon. Clyde Croft AM SC of the Australian Bar Review has invited members of the Victorian Bar to contribute papers to this highly regarded law journal, of which he is consultant editor. This is an excellent way for junior members to build their professional reputation and contribute to the development of legal knowledge. For more information, see the notice below.

Stamping out sexual harassment at the Bar

The Readers joining us will help underpin the Bar’s reputation as an organisation that continues to evolve to meet cultural and community expectations. The Bar is committed to tackling issues that undermine a safe working environment – and that includes stamping out sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination.

There is a lot that the Victorian Bar has already done. This includes supporting the Victorian Government’s review of the practices that prevent and address sexual harassment in the State’s courts and VCAT and across the legal profession. We’ve met with government, judicial and industry stakeholders to contribute to this work, and are engaged with industry forums to discuss the issue. We will also be harnessing the support of leaders at the Bar to address sexual harassment by working towards long-term cultural change – beginning with the ‘Culture of the Bar’ session at the Readers’ Course delivered by the President, and continuing through future webinars and events for members.

The Bar is currently reviewing its policies and procedures about handling instances of and complaints about sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination, to ensure they are best practice and conform to the standards set by external agencies, including the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the VLSB+C. We continue to work with the VLSB+C with a focus on change to encourage more reporting so that the Bar can develop further targeted strategies to prevent unacceptable conduct.

If you have experienced harassment at the Bar, you can find support via the Victorian Bar’s counselling services, and we can help you decide what action to take, including with making complaints to external agencies. Members in this situation should contact the Bar’s In-house Legal Counsel (Regulation) by email or phone.

It’s not trivial

Ensuring that the Bar provides a safe, supportive and nurturing environment is crucial to members’ wellbeing. So, we will continue to help members come together in virtual events during the pandemic. One activity that is emerging as a fun way to stay connected during restrictions is online trivia. The trivia night we held last week with members of the Association of Corporate Counsel, hosted by Kat Brazenor, was a resounding success – pitting teams against each other with opportunities to network and get to know one another in small groups. Congratulations to the members of the Quarantina Turner and Tequila Mockingbird teams who won the night.

The VicBar team is organising a trivia night for the Bar Mums group, to be hosted by Nawaar Hassan (members of the group should stay tuned for details), and then with the Victorian Government Solicitors Office later in the month with Chris McDermott in the MC role (members can register here). If members would like the VicBar team to help arrange a trivia night, or any other activity, internally or with an external organisation, please contact us via email.

Vicbar News & Events
Victorian Bar Entrance Exam

Looking ahead to next year, lawyers thinking about joining the Bar can now register for the Victorian Bar Entrance Exam. The exam is scheduled for Sunday 25 October 2020 from 9:30am. As foreshadowed by the 2019 Exam Review, this exam will be delivered electronically using highly secure software provided by ExamSoft, replacing the handwritten exams of previous years. 

In response to the requirements for social distancing, this exam will also be delivered remotely. Candidates will sit the exam in their own location using their own devices and will be subject to sophisticated remote identification and invigilation technology throughout the exam. Those interested should visit the Victorian Bar Entrance Examination webpage here for more information and to register. Registrations close 5:00pm on 25 September 2020.

Victorian Bar member CPD and 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.

  • Insolvency Seminar Series 4: Introduction to bankruptcy on Monday 31 August 2020 at 5:15 – 6.15pm is part four in a series of introductory webinars on insolvency intended for junior barristers. In the fourth webinar, speakers will give an introduction to the Bankruptcy Act. Click here to register.
  • Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) in the County Court is on Tuesday 1 September 2020 at 5:00 – 6:00pm. ENE is a new alternative dispute resolution mechanism used in the Building Cases List in the County Court of Victoria. In this seminar, His Honour Judge Edward Woodward, Judge in charge of the Building Cases List, will explain what ENE is, how it works and the benefits it offers amongst the suite of ADR options available to resolve disputes. Click here to register.
  • COVID-19 Lockdown Law Lecture Series – The essential rules of evidence: Probative value and unfair prejudice is on Friday 4 September 2020, 4:00 –5:00pm and is a part of a series of seminars on the fundamental concepts of evidence relevant to practising criminal law in the courtroom. In the third of this COVID-19 Lockdown Law Lecture series, Dr Harkess considers what is meant by ‘probative value’ and ‘unfair prejudice’, and the court’s power to exclude evidence under ss 135 and 137 of the Evidence Act 2008. Click here to register.
  • Members’ schemes of arrangement: Developments in 2019/2020 is on Tuesday 8 September 2020, 4:00 – 5:00pm. Members’ schemes of arrangement are used to effect company takeovers, mergers, demergers and corporate reconstructions. In this seminar, Greg Ahern will give a brief overview of what a members’ scheme of arrangement is and will then discuss some developments in 2019 and 2020 in this area of the law (including some COVID-19 related matters). Click here to register.
  • Equality & anti-discrimination law update & practical tips for assisting LGBTIQ clients is on Wednesday 9 September 2020, 5:15 – 6:15pm on recent issues in equality and anti-discrimination law, including discussion of a recent case concerning protection of personal beliefs about marriage equality in the employment context. Click here to register.
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.


Due to the significant impact that current government restrictions have on members, the Victorian Bar and BCL have offered financial relief through member subscription discounts and rent relief. For more information about this, visit the subheading entitled ‘What are the Victorian Bar and BCL doing’.

Government support for barristers – Wilson Pateras

Wilson Pateras, accountants, has provided the Bar with some consolidated information on government support for barristers here.

Court updates

The Supreme Court of Victoria changed the process in relation to admissions and the probate in response to coronavirus:

  • More information about the admissions process is available to read here.
  • More information about the changes to probate is available here.

The Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia issued Special Measures Information Note 2, which formally sets out the arrangements in relation to inspection of subpoenaed material which are to be followed until further notice:

  • Special Measures Information Note 2 for the Family Court of Australia is available to read here.
  • Special Measures Information Note 2 for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is available to read here.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia advised that all hearings in general federal law and migration will proceed as listed. Hearings will be conducted by Judges, Registrars and staff from their homes if possible but otherwise they will be in the Court buildings if a case is required to proceed and working from home is not reasonably practicable. The advice is available to read here.

Medical Panels is experiencing some delays in the finalisation of matters due to workers or claimants not bringing their medical reports, including imaging, with them to appointments. It may be that some clients are getting mixed messages from different sources about the importance of the imaging, and this is to clarify that all medical imaging should be taken to all appointments. 

To access each email update relating to COVID-19 that VicBar has sent members, please click here.

New Barristers’ Committee: Work opportunity referral system

In the current circumstances, many of the usual ways in which barristers interact with each other have been greatly restricted or even made impossible.  One of the effects of this is that work opportunities have not been able to flow to new barristers in the same way as previously.  

To that end, the New Barristers’ Committee (NBC) is instituting a system for the advertising of work opportunities by barristers to new barristers.  These advertisements will be placed on the New Barristers’ Slack channel - a virtual bulletin board accessible to new barristers.  The referring barrister will be contacted directly by the new barrister(s) responding to the advertisement.

If you would like to advertise a work opportunity to new barristers, please contact Tim Glass of the NBC at and provide the following information:

  • A summary of the work to be done
  • The area of law the work relates to
  • The expected scope and time requirements of the work to be done
  • The expected fee structure for the work, and
  • Your contact details.  

The NBC will not make any recommendations to the referring barrister as to appropriate counsel for the work opportunity, nor will the NBC make any recommendation to new barristers as to appropriate work opportunities, aside from advertising the work opportunity on the NBC Slack Channel.

VicBar’s Health & Wellbeing Program – Virtual Mat Moves: Svenson Barristers + Grounded Movement

A 45 minute movement session combining mat Pilates and clinical exercise. An opportunity for the Barristers and friends of Svenson Barristers to break up your work day with movement in the comfort and safety of your own home. Register here. The session is hosted by Charissa Fermelis, Physiotherapist and Pilates Practitioner, and founder/director of Grounded Movement.

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:

Darren Ferrari is organising a Zwift group for members of VicBar. Zwift blends the fun of video games with the intensity of serious training, helping cyclists get faster. Level up in the virtual worlds of Zwift with a group that motivates each other. To join or find out more, contact Darren Ferrari on 0412 124 076 or by email at

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: Updated services and cyber security awareness

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.

Cyber Security Awareness: What you need to do to keep your practice safe 

In these current uncertain times, the increased use of video conferencing, reliance on email, the use of home internet services, SMS’s from our governments, and the sudden shift into paperless practices all make it easier to fall victim to a costly scam.
In recent months we are aware of successful scams within the community, leading to significant financial and operations impact. There are some simple things you can do to help protect your practice:

  • Using BCL corporate-grade technology and network services (Internet & email) provides you with a managed enterprise environment with corporate-grade security platforms and sophisticated network practices.
  • SMS verification for passwords is now available. To enhance the security of barrister passwords, we have introduced SMS verification for password resets. Login to, select the “Profile” tab and click “Edit” to enter your mobile number. All password reset requests will now require this information.
  • Always check the “From” address in emails, particularly those from external parties. A difference in the Senders name compared to the From address is a clear indication of a scam email.
  • Look for suspicious characteristics in an email such as unprofessional emails with typos and spelling mistakes, or requests for ‘click here’, pay now, requests for funds, bank account details or an unnecessary sense of urgency.
  • Always use an up to date and valid anti-virus product and backup your data as outlined in the Victorian Bar Technology Minimum Standards.
  • If you are ever unsure, DO NOT open it and contact the BCL Service Desk.
  • Improve your cyber security awareness by taking a short 5-minute quiz provided by the Australian Government here.
Review of the ICC accreditation scheme – Request for feedback from instructing solicitors

The Victorian Bar is conducting a review of the Indictable Crime Certificate (ICC) accreditation scheme that is overseen by the Bar’s Indictable Crime Certificate Committee in conjunction with Victoria Legal Aid.

The ICC is a voluntary accreditation scheme introduced by the Bar in 2015 to raise the standards of criminal advocacy in Victoria. It provides a scheme to differentiate barristers with specific skills, knowledge and expertise related to indictable crime. It aims to recognise and promote quality advocacy in criminal trials, by providing a pool of barristers with measurable skills and knowledge and who are fully equipped and capable of running a trial in an indictable matter.

The review of the ICC scheme will look at the current process for obtaining the certificate, the relevance of its content and the adequacy of ICC application and renewal arrangements.

As part of the review, we would very much like to understand whether the ICC accreditation is known by law firms, whether firms place value on it, insofar as they specifically seek barristers with the accreditation when briefing on indictable crime matters, and whether firms select barristers on the basis of having the ICC accreditation.

Instructing solicitors are encouraged to complete a short survey here.

Vicbar Life
eBrief Ready – Paperless solution for receiving briefs

If you want an easy, secure way to receive and work on your briefs electronically, then you should watch the recent Victorian Bar CPD session co-hosted with Martin Bartfeld QC, explaining the benefits of the eBrief Ready product. You can view this here.

Over 700 members from the Victorian Bar and 3500 solicitors are now using TA Law’s eBrief Ready platform to both receive and work on their briefs. 

Stephen Foley MD of TA Law said that there is no charge for using the platform during these difficult times.The Victorian Bar is also introducing a new member benefit to ensure affordable access for all its members in the future. 

If you would like to know more about eBrief Ready, you can book a consultation with the Managing Director, Stephen Foley here.

The Essoign Club – Closed for Stage 4 Restrictions

Dear Essoign members and patrons,

It is with great regret that due to the impact of Stage 4 Restrictions the Club has temporarily closed its doors. 

Thank you for your continued support during the ever-changing circumstances in 2020. Understandably the current Stage 4 Lockdown has reflected your absence from the Club. We will miss seeing you along with your story sharing, laughs and giving support to all fellow members.

The Essoign will be back once restrictions are lifted and we will keep you informed as we get closer to that date.  

Please stay safe and stay healthy. We look forward to seeing you all again very soon.

As always, thank you.

The Essoign Club

Member Benefits Australia - August exclusive member offers

Don't miss out on these exclusive member deals for August with some great offers and gift ideas, especially for Father's Day.

Practice & Profession News
Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia – Current ongoing projects

Priority Property Pool 500

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has introduced a new process to manage family law property disputes for cases where the value of the net property pool is under $500,000. The new process, known as the Priority Property Pool 500 (PPP500), started on 1 March 2020 and will operate for two years as a pilot program in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Parramatta. For more information, please visit the Court’s website.

The Lighthouse Project

The Lighthouse Project is a ground-breaking and innovative initiative in the way in which the Courts will screen for risk and focus on public health and improved outcomes for families involved in the family law system. A pilot for this project will commence in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta and the Courts are looking to secure additional government funding to expand nationally. The project will deliver numerous benefits to litigants and practitioners, including:

  • better risk screening and early identification of at-risk clients,
  • tailored court processes and support to those litigants experiencing family violence,
  • easier access to justice – a single entry point to the Court,
  • improved outcomes for litigants with more information available to the Court from the first stages,
  • improved case management decisions leading to a reduction in the number of adjournments and court events required, and
  • opportunities to settle early through the use of alternative dispute resolution for suitable matters.

Information sessions about the project for lawyers and unrepresented litigants will commence shortly – dates and times to be advised. For more information, please visit the Court’s website.

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.

High Court (2021 Sittings) Rules 2020

The Rule of Court appoints the Full Court sittings to be held in Canberra throughout the year and the days on which special leave applications will be heard. Sittings of the Court will continue to be held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart and Perth as required. Additional sittings may also be held on other days as required, for example in matters requiring expedition. These sittings will be appointed by the Chief Justice pursuant to Rule 6.04.2 of the High Court Rules 2004. The Rule of Court appointing the High Court sittings for 2021 is available here.

New Judicial College Resource – Coronavirus and Contracts

How does the coronavirus impact upon commercial transactions and how are Australian courts grappling with the issues?

‪A new addition to the College’s coronavirus library, ‘Coronavirus and Contracts’ considers common contract issues likely to arise as a result of the pandemic, and analyses the early jurisprudence on these matters. Click here to access ‘Coronavirus and Contracts’.

Appointment of Manager to Thexton Lawyers Pty Ltd

On 26 August 2020, the Victorian Legal Services Board (‘the Board’) resolved to appoint Mr Nicholas Curran as Manager of the incorporated legal practice of Thexton Lawyers Pty Ltd (‘the Law Practice’), pursuant to section 334 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (‘Uniform Law’). The appointment is for a period of approximately six months and expires on 24 February 2021, unless the Board determines to extend the appointment or the appointment otherwise ceases in accordance with section 340 of the Uniform Law.

The Board determined to appoint a Manager because the Board is satisfied that there is a need for an independent person to be appointed to take over professional and operational responsibility for the Law Practice.

Members of the Victorian Bar who have recently been briefed and/or undertaken work for the Law Practice may be impacted by this appointment. Please contact Mr Curran on 03 8080 3557 or at if you have any concerns about payment of fees.

You will be notified upon the termination of the management. If you wish to discuss this matter further with the Board, please contact Reshma Pickering on (03) 9679 8048 or via email at

International Bar Association – Global survey for young lawyers

The International Bar Association is conducting a major global survey in relation to Young Lawyers in the Legal Profession.

The data IBA obtains will help identify issues faced by young lawyers around the world and articulate credible and workable recommendations.

The survey (for lawyers aged 40 or under) is anonymous and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. The closing date is Monday 31 August 2020.

You can complete the survey here.

Profession CPD & Events
Law Library Webinars: Focus on…leading cases

The Law Library of Victoria invites you to attend its Focus On... sessions. This 30-minute webinar online via zoom will familiarise users with the digital research support available through the Law Library of Victoria website. This includes curated collections, research guides, exclusive content, and Legal Research eLearning.

Legal Research eLearning Focus On... Leading cases on Tuesday 8 September 2020 at 1:15 – 1:45pm includes a research focus on leading cases. Based on one of the Legal Research eLearning modules, this short refresher demonstrates how to locate Australian leading case law using free online resources. Click here to register.

Monash University webinars

Monash University is offering the following upcoming free webinars:

  • The Role & Effectiveness of ASIC v the SEC

This free Zoom webinar hosted by the Centre for Commercial Law and Regulatory Studies on Monday 31 August 2020, 4:30 – 5:45pm, The session will compare ASIC with the world’s biggest capital market regulator, the SEC. Does ASIC Stack up? By comparing ASIC with the world’s biggest capital market regulator, the SEC, this session analyses the viability of further reform of ASIC, and argues that ASIC is woefully under-resourced to engage in increased enforcement action. You can register to attend this webinar here.

  • CLARS Law & Business Seminar Series - Managing Management Buyouts

This seminar will comparatively assess the regulation of buyouts by private equity firms in major jurisdictions, focusing on the duties of directors and senior managers. It will consider mechanisms for constraining misconduct by fiduciaries, including fiduciary duties, private enforcement, and mandated disclosure. It will examine current developments in the United States, including recent Delaware decisions that suggest heightened judicial concern about potential misconduct in buyouts. The free webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 23 September 2020, 10:00 – 11:15 AM. You can register to attend this webinar here.

Careers & Opportunities
Australian Bar Review seeking scholarly submissions

The Australian Bar Review is a highly regarded law journal produced by the Australian Bar Association and facilitates scholarly discussion of current issues in legal doctrine and procedure throughout Australia. Papers dealing with a national perspective of a topic are preferred, but papers of particular interest to a state or territory are not excluded from consideration. If a paper focuses on the legislation of one jurisdiction it should also include, in the text or a footnote, references to interstate equivalents. Professor the Hon. Clyde Croft AM SC is seeking submissions from members of the Victorian Bar. Senior, mid-tier and junior members are all welcome to contribute – the editorial staff are keen to foster the next generation of leaders of the Bar, as well as to acknowledge the expertise of the senior generation. 

For submission guidelines and to submit an article, please visit the website here. More information is also available in the Note to Contributors here. If you have any queries about submissions, you may contact Professor Croft via email.

‘Legal Latte’ connects law students and legal professionals

A new Monash University Law school initiative, Legal Latte, is a networking program that facilitates an initial contact between students and legal professionals so that they may arrange a casual meeting for a coffee and chat. The only commitment required is a casual catch up over coffee. Participants are encouraged to exchange details if they wish to remain in contact, but this is not necessary.

Members can learn more about the program and register here.

Commercial Mediation Competition – Seeking volunteer judges and mediators

The 2020 ADC-ICC Asia-Pacific Commercial Mediation Competition, which runs from 30 August to 1 September 2020, is a forum for students to showcase their budding negotiation and mediation skills in a realistic mock international commercial dispute. Members who would like to volunteer as mediators or judges should visit the ADC website here, or contact us by email if you have any questions. The original deadline for volunteers has been extended beyond 31 July 2020.

Deakin Law School seeking arbitrators to judge upcoming moots

Deakin Law School is seeking arbitrators to help judge the fourth Alfred Deakin International Commercial Arbitration Moot. The moots will be held on a virtual platform on 8, 9 and 10 September 2020. Arbitrators will hear 32 teams registered from law schools around Australia and overseas. 

Each round lasts for one hour with 30 minutes for questions, deliberation and feedback. Deakin Law School will supply the questions and bench notes in advance.

You can volunteer here. Please note that you are able to arbitrate from any state or country and all event times listed are in AEST.

Please check the website for more information. Any questions may be directed to Linda Black or Kayla Laird via email.

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, 3rd September 2020