Excellence and leadership at the Bar
If these were "normal" times, this week we would hear the popping of champagne corks, the smacks of kisses and back slaps and much laughter and excitement in chambers to accompany the announcement of the appointment of the new silks. While the halls of Owen Dixon Chambers may be empty of such celebration this year, our hearts are not. I'm sure that all members will join me in congratulating the new Senior Counsel, whose appointment to silk was announced by the Honourable Anne Ferguson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, yesterday.
I extend my heartfelt congratulations on behalf of the Bar Council to Donald Farrands, Patrick Bourke, Peter Fary, Timothy Puckey, Julianne Jaques, Lisa Hannon, Patrick Wheelahan, Justin Graham, Peter Wallis, Megan Tittensor, Alistair Pound, Paul Vout, Sandro Goubran, Christopher Carr, Daniel McInerney, Georgina Coghlan, Elizabeth Ruddle and Benno Ihle.
As I have said to more than one appointee over the years, what they will experience over the coming days and weeks will be a little like attending their own funeral, such will be the outpouring of goodwill and warm wishes – often from people scarcely known to the new silk. I hope that, notwithstanding the constraints on proper celebration imposed by the current restrictions, the new Senior Counsel and their families and friends find ways to mark and truly savour this wonderful professional milestone.
Many of the individuals appointed yesterday by the Chief Justice will be familiar to this audience – as Bar Councillors, members of Bar Committees and Associations, as participants in the Bar's education programs, and, of course, for the excellence of their practices, their personal integrity and their leadership in the profession. Stepping up to silk is a great honour, which brings with it considerable responsibility – as the reputation of the Bar, the courts, and our justice system are heavily intertwined with the distinction of Senior and Queen's Counsel. I have no doubt that the 2020 cohort of silks will wear their new mantle with humility and respect.
Continuing the legacy – equality and diversity
As I scan reports hailing the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was laid to rest this week, I can't help but feel some sorrow that she is not here to see the accolades that continue to pour in for her. The esteem in which the international community holds RBG stems from both her extraordinary legal career and her dignified and formidable crusade against discrimination and prejudice.
I'm proud that the Bar continues its work to support equality and diversity within our ranks, and across the profession. This weekend, the Bar is a sponsor of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association's inaugural National Cultural Diversity Summit, which will bring together leading international thinkers to discuss a roadmap for cultural diversity and explore the role of cultural leadership in the legal industry and the broader community. I am pleased to be part of a community of barristers who are committed to projects that encourage open discussion about how we can change our profession for the better. John Arthur, Barrister, who is part of the event's planning committee, has extended an invitation to all members. The flyer for this event is here and you can register here.
And for friends and allies of the LGBTIQ+ community, Barristers John Heard and Beth Warnock organise regular get-togethers. The invitation to join their virtual social group is in a notice below – it's a great opportunity to get to know more colleagues across the Bar.
Vale His Honour Chief Judge Glenn Waldron AO QC
I'd like to honour the memory of former Chief Judge Glenn Waldron AO QC. His Honour signed the Bar Roll in March 1955. His Honour built a significant common law practice and was elected to Bar Council in 1976, serving for more than five years. He also served as Chairman of the Ethics Committee and Bar Fees Committee. His Honour will be remembered for 21 years of distinguished service to the County Court of Victoria, as Chief Judge from 3 February 1982 to 24 November 2002, and for his extensive reform of the Court's civil jurisdiction and pre-trial case management.
Victorian Commercial Arbitration Scheme – open for business
VCAS – the Victorian Commercial Arbitration Scheme – which was the brainchild of Victorian Barristers Rob Heath QC, Adam Rollnik and Kieran Hickie – was launched on Wednesday evening with a distinguished panel comprising Professor the Honourable Clyde Croft AM SC, Her Honour Judge Elizabeth Brimer of the County Court of Victoria, Professor Bryan Horrigan, Dean of Monash University Law School, and Barrister Adam Rollnik. VCAS is an innovative scheme providing capped-fees on arbitrators, fixed time-frames, and offering swift access to justice, particularly for those in regional Victoria. The website is now live at vcas.net.au.
Response to Victorian Bar submission on COVID Omnibus Bill
As members are aware, the Bar made a submission to government on a number of aspects of proposed amendments to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic). You can read the Attorney-General's response to our letter here.
Victorian Bar and Barristers' Benevolent Association Annual General Meetings
Finally, members should note the notice below regarding the forthcoming AGMs for the Victorian Bar Inc and the Barristers' Benevolent Association of Victoria.