In Brief Issue #992

Christopher Blanden QC

Monday saw the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants. A number of recommendations made by the Commission directly affect the Bar and implementation of those recommendations will be the subject of discussion at the Bar Council meeting next week.

Members will be aware that the Bar’s continuing membership of the Law Council of Australia is currently the subject of discussion. On Monday, I met (virtually) with Pauline Wright, the current President of the LCA, to discuss that and other issues.

On Tuesday, I was delighted to have a face-to-face discussion with His Honour Chief Judge Peter Kidd about the challenges the County Court of Victoria is facing in dealing with the resumption of jury trials, in light of Covid restrictions. His Honour explained that space is probably the greatest issue and described the steps the Court is taking to try to address those logistical hurdles.

Also, this week, the Executive has spent considerable time finalising recommendations for membership of the various Bar Committees. I am pleased to report that there has been a 5% increase in Committee applications, hopefully reflecting a greater level of engagement by members.

Updated directions on returning to Chambers

My apologies to those members who will see the following as needless repetition. We have been fielding many questions not only about barristers returning to Chambers, but also visitors, instructors or clients. In those circumstances, I have chosen to publish an update reflecting the latest directions.

The Chief Health Officer has given new directions which came into force on 30 November 2020. The directions that primarily affect members’ ability to return to Chambers are the Workplace Directions (No 11) and the Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) (No 3).

As neither the Victorian Bar nor BCL employs barristers, and each barrister operates their own business and has control of their own leased Chambers, the Victorian Bar and BCL do not dictate each barrister’s return to Chambers. Each barrister may return to Chambers at the time that their own personal circumstances meet the requirements in the directions.

We provide the following information to assist you in navigating the directions and planning your own return to Chambers.

Clause 6 of the Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) (No 3) provides:

‘A person who ordinarily resides in the State of Victoria may attend work (whether paid or voluntary, including for charitable or religious purposes) at a work premises if:

  • the person who has employed or engaged the person to work has advised that it is permissible for them to do so in accordance with the Directions currently in force; or
  • it is not reasonably practicable for the person to do so from those premises.’

The Workplace Directions (No 11) set out the circumstances in which an employer may permit employees to attend work from the Work Premises. In those Directions:

  • An ‘employer’ means ‘a person who owns, operates or controls Work Premises (or a Work Premises) and includes a person who is self-employed’;
  • An ‘employee’ includes ‘a person who is self-employed’; and
  • Work Premises relevantly means ‘the premises of an employer in which work is undertaken.’

It, therefore, appears that each barrister, being a self-employed person who operates or controls their own Chambers, is both an ‘employer’ and an ‘employee’ and that their Chambers are Work Premises.

Working from Chambers in accordance with your COVIDSafe Plan

Clause 5(1)(c) of the Workplace Directions (No 11) provides that in relation to office-based Work Premises, an employer may permit workers to attend the Work Premises in accordance with the requirements of the COVIDSafe Plan for that Work Premises.

Clauses 6(3) and (4) provide that for each Work Premises, an employer must have in place a COVIDSafe Plan and comply with it. Each barrister who returns to work in Chambers should therefore complete and retain a COVIDSafe Plan for their own Chambers. A template can be found here.

Pursuant to clause 6(3)(v)(A), for office-based Work Premises where fewer than 40 workers ordinarily work, the COVIDSafe Plan may allow for up to 10 workers to work at any one time. I, therefore, expect that all barristers will be able to return to their own Chambers once they have created their COVIDSafe Plan.

BCL has a COVIDSafe Plan for the shared areas. You can view it here.

Visitors to Chambers and record-keeping

There is no restriction on visitors, instructors or clients entering Chambers.

However, clause 6(7) of the Workplace Directions (No 11) requires an employer to keep a record of all workers and all visitors who attend the Work Premises for longer than 15 minutes including their first name, contact telephone number, the date and time they attended and the areas of the Work Premises which they visited.

In order to comply with this requirement, BCL’s COVIDSafe Plan requires all visitors to scan the QR code at the entrance of each Chambers. When you receive visitors, you should ask them to do this.

If you invite visitors into your own Chambers rather than a shared meeting room, you should keep your own record of the above details.

BCL is dealing with lift and floor access on a floor-by-floor basis. Most have remained swipe-only. If your floor wishes the lifts and doors to be unlocked, or you have any other questions related to access, you can contact Paul Clark (CEO), James Campbell (Property Team) or the BCL service desk (03 9225 8888).

Density quotients

Clause 6(11) of the Workplace Directions (No 11) imposes a density quotient in any shared spaces (such as tearooms, print rooms or meeting rooms) of no more than one person per 4 square metres of space.

You should bear this in mind when inviting visitors into shared meeting rooms or into your own Chambers.

If your Chambers are shared and the size of your Chambers does not permit all occupants to be present at the same time in line with the density quotient, you will need to manage attendance with whom you share Chambers.

Face masks

Clause 6(1) of the Workplace Directions (No 11) requires workers to wear a face-covering while in an indoor space. There are several exceptions which include:

  • where the nature of the work means that clear enunciation or visibility of the mouth is essential; or
  • where the worker is working by themselves in an enclosed indoor space (unless and until another person enters that indoor space).

You are therefore not required to wear a mask whilst working alone in your Chambers, but must wear a mask in the shared areas. If you receive visitors, you should ensure that they also wear masks when in the same space as others.

Familiarising yourself with the directions

I have provided this information for your assistance, but whether attendance in Chambers is permitted in your particular circumstances is, of course, a matter of legal interpretation of the relevant directions. Each barrister is responsible for reading them and forming their own conclusions about their obligations as a self-employed person.

The information I have given above is designed to assist you in navigating the directions but is not a comprehensive list of all your obligations.

You can find the full text of the directions here.

I encourage each of you to read the full text of the directions and ensure that you comply with them.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Call for nominations for the 2020-2021 Bar Council by-election

Nominations are hereby called for the 2020-2021 by-election of the Bar Council to replace a departing member in Category A: Queen’s Counsel, Senior Counsel, or junior counsel who are of not less than 15 years’ standing.

The Candidate nomination form is here and Nominator form is here.

Nominations must reach the Honorary Secretary on or before 5:00pm, Tuesday 8 December 2020 via email to (cc:

The forms must be signed by members of counsel who are eligible to nominate or be nominated. Conditions of eligibility to nominate and to be nominated are prescribed by clauses 45 and 48 of the Constitution of the Victorian Bar Inc.

Hard copies of the forms will not be accepted. Nominations received out of time will not be accepted.

One candidate will be elected in Category A: Queen’s Counsel, Senior Counsel or junior counsel who are of not less than 15 years’ standing.

The Bar Council has resolved to publish the following details following the conduct of the by-election: (a) the number of members who voted; (b) the vote tally for the successful candidate; and (c) the difference in vote tally between the successful candidate and the highest ranked unsuccessful candidate.  The names, ranking and vote tallies of unsuccessful candidates will not be published.

Voting will open at 5:00pm on Wednesday, 9 December 2020.

Special Sitting Farewell to the Honourable Justice Nettle AC

On Thursday 26 November 2020, the High Court held a Special Sitting Farewell to the Honourable Justice Nettle AC.

The address by Dr Matt Collins AM QC, Vice-President of the Australian Bar Association and Former President of the Victorian Bar is here and the Transcript of the Special Sitting is here.

Victorian Bar CPD – Commissioner of Taxation v Glencore

Commissioner of Taxation v Glencore – The Full Court Decision is on Monday 7 December 2020, 5:15–6:15pm. In this session, the speakers will consider the implications arising from this important decision.

Click here to register.

You’re invited to the LGBTQ+ End of Year Drinks – limited spots left

The LGBTQ+ social group of the Victorian Bar welcomes you to end of year drinks at The Essoign Club on Wednesday, 9 December 2020 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Drinks and canapes will be provided at no cost. 

A surprise special guest will be attending!

The event will be COVID safe – details are available from The Essoign Club. Due to COVID precautions currently in place at The Essoign Club, numbers are strictly limited for this event.

RSVP now and arrive on time to avoid disappointment. If you book, but cannot attend, please let us know.

To reserve your place, please register here.

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.
Victorian Bar office closure dates

The Victorian Bar office and Victorian Bar Mediation Centre will close for the Christmas-New Year holidays at 5:00pm on Thursday, 24 December 2020. The Bar office and Mediation Centre will reopen at 9:00am on Monday, 11 January 2021.

We wish all members a safe, happy and relaxing festive season.

Vicbar Life
The Victorian Bar Library (Richard Griffith Library) is now open

The Richard Griffith Library, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East is now open.

Members are asked to practise social distancing when visiting the library and to use the hand sanitiser provided when entering and leaving the library.

Additional cleaning measures have also been implemented for the safety of library visitors.

Studio 11 End of Year Exhibition

Studio 11 End of Year Exhibition is now installed and you are welcome to view it in person on level 11 East.

The exhibition features rich, colourful oil paintings by Stephen Armstrong depicting the charming comfort and the grind of the familiar in our homes and gardens during lockdown. They are about liminal time and thresholds.

Liz Gill has 12 small works depicting the allure of the Summer we now yearn for, reminding us very efficiently of coastal Anglesea.

Bridget Foley shares with us 23 very skilfully executed ceramic pieces created during lock down with earthy tones and textured glazes reflective of the sea, outback Australia and country Victoria.

All works are for sale. Worksheets are available on level 11 East or click here.

The exhibition continues until Friday, 18 December 2020.

The works at Studio 11 are “always worth a look” and offer members an opportunity to take a break and very easily explore art mediums, in our work setting. Everyone is welcome.

For a tour by the artists of their beautiful works on display, please watch this video.

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.

The Essoign Club – New Breakfast and A La Carte Menus

Dear Essoign Club Members,

We are open daily from 7:00am – till late.

Breakfast – see our Breakfast Menu here for dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch – see our Daily Café Menu for takeaway or delivery.

Lunch Dine-In – see our A La Carte Menu here for dining in.

Bar – open till late with light snacks available.

Art Exhibition – Come in and see our latest art exhibition currently being showcased in the club by artist by Salvatore Trigila.

End of year celebrations – Special lunches private dinners or something special you may have in mind. Email us at

We appreciate your ongoing support and hope to see you in the Club soon.

Practice & Profession News
Federal Court of Australia – Practice Information Note APP 1: Case Management of Full Court and Appellate Matters

On Tuesday 17 November 2020, the Federal Court published Practice Information Note APP 1: Case Management of Full Court and Appellate Matters, which is now available on the Federal Court’s website here.

Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia – updates on inspection of subpoena material

In August 2020, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia published Special Measures Information Notice 2 (SMIN2), which set out the arrangements for the inspection of subpoena material in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries for both Courts.

On Friday, 27 November 2020, an amended version of SMIN2 was re-issued to facilitate the in-person inspection of ‘inspection only’ subpoena material in urgent or priority matters for both Courts, including for trials listed to the end of February 2021.

The amended notice is available on the Family Court’s website here and the Federal Circuit Court’s website here.

Rules of the Supreme Court of Victoria – Scale of Costs

The Honourable Chief Justice Anne Ferguson has written to the Bar to inform members that the Supreme Court Scale of Costs (Appendices A and B of Chapter I of the Rules of the Supreme Court) will remain at their current levels past Friday, 1 January 2021, until further notice.  Click here to read the letter.

County Court of Victoria – Updates, newsletter and sitting dates for 2020–2021

On Thursday, 19 November 2020, the County Court published a Criminal Division update, which includes information regarding:

  • pre-COVID January to July 2021 trial dates
  • case management of Term 1, 2021 trials (trial readiness conference, trial readiness certificate and floating list)
  • management of cases that did not apply for Emergency Case Management
  • staggered Court sitting times for non-trial work
  • remote hearings – Zoom and WebEx, and
  • confirmation of media playback.

The revised Criminal Division update is available on the Court’s website here.

The trial readiness certificate is available on the Court’s website here.

On Tuesday, 24 November 2020, the County Court Criminal Division published issued its latest newsletter, which is available here.

The Court’s sitting dates for 2020–2021 are available here.

LIV report advocates for cultural diversity in the Victorian legal profession and forum on diversity

A comprehensive report by Law Institute of Victoria president Sam Pandya has called on the Victorian legal profession to take a series of measures to promote ethnic diversity in the legal profession, including a recommendation that all law firms should be asked to collect and report on their organisations ethnic diversity to the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner or the LIV every two years.

The LIV and the Network of Cultural and Diverse Associations Presidents is hosting an important online panel discussion on the future of diversity in the legal profession on Wednesday, 9 December 2020. Panellists Sam Pandya, County Court Judge Arushan Pillay, Arnold Block Liebler lawyer and community advocate Nyadol Nyuon criminal lawyer Daniel Ajak and Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s Monica Vrymoet will discuss positive actions that can be taken to further progress diversity, VLSB+C diversity data and the recommendations from Sam’s diversity report.

You can register for the online panel discussion here.

An extract from the report is available in December Law Institute Journal here.

The Australian Institute of Judicial Administration newsletter

The Australian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) is a research and educational institute. The principal objectives of AIJA include research into judicial administration and the development and conduct of educational programmes for judicial officers, court administrators and members of the legal profession in relation to court administration and judicial systems.

The AIJA produces a regular newsletter, the most recent of which is available to read here.

Digital Bar Library resources

The Digital Bar Library provides access here to certain licensed resources, structured for ease of access.

In addition to that collection, publishers have made many titles available gratis during COVID restrictions. These are available here.

If you would like help accessing the content you need, or have a research query that you’d like assistance with, please fill in a library request form here.

Victoria Law Foundation – Applications for community legal grants open

The Victoria Law Foundation is accepting applications for legal projects with budgets up to $5000 through its Small Grants program. Applications for Community Legal Grants up to $20,000 will be accepted from 1 December 2020 for projects that improve community understanding of civil legal issues where there is a demonstrated community need.

To learn more about these grants, visit the Victoria Law Foundation website here.

Profession CPD & Events
Australian Italian Lawyers Association webinar – Italics and comparative legal anthropologies

This webinar will discuss the Italici project, which is designed to promote and facilitate a global network of all persons interested in things Italian. The session will feature distinguished speakers from Italy, the USA and Australia, including a paper from an Italian Professor of Law on the topic "italics and legal anthropologies".

The featured distinguished speakers are: The Hon GT Pagone, Francis Donnarumma, Piero Basetti and Carlo Gamberino.

This is free event is on Friday, 11 December 2020, 8–9:00am. To register and obtain zoom details, please contact Joseph Carbone, Secretary of AILA, via email or by phone on 0409 090 090.

Careers & Opportunities
Expressions of Interest for nominations to the Takeovers Panel

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest for nominations to the Takeovers Panel.

The terms of 14 members of the Panel are due to expire on Thursday, 29 April 2021.

The Takeovers Panel is established by Part 10 of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001. It is the primary forum for resolving disputes about a takeover bid until the bid period has ended. The Panel is a peer review body with part-time members appointed from the active members of Australia's takeover and business community. Potential members are required to have knowledge of, or experience in, relevant fields including business, the administration of companies, the financial markets, law, economics and accounting.

Further information on the Takeovers Panel is available on its website here and in the background document here.

The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of Vic Bar members to external bodies can be viewed here. You are encouraged to provide a detailed expression of interest, which should identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise. This will assist the Bar Council to nominate the best candidate(s) for the position.

Interested members should contact the Executive Assistant to the President and Bar Council, Denise Bennett, via email by Tuesday, 8 December 2020. A Curriculum Vitae must be provided with the expression of interest. Members must reside in Victoria.

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.

ACT Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – Prosecutor vacancies

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ACT) has a number of positions available at the Prosecutor Grade 3 ($128,034 - $141,579) and Grade 4 ($147,387 - $158,014) levels.

Applications close Friday, 11 December 2020.

For more information about these job opportunities, click here.

In Brief Submissions

If you would like to contribute relevant news, events and updates for barristers and the legal profession to In Brief, please send an email with your content to or complete this submission form.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 10th December 2020