In Brief Issue #993

Christopher Blanden QC

Return to Chambers

I remind you of the guidance I gave in last week’s In Brief about complying with the Chief Health Officer’s directions in Chambers.

On Monday, 7 December 2020, the Chief Health Officer published updated directions. Of significance to barristers returning to Chambers are the:

  • Workplace Directions (No 12), and
  • Stay Safe Directions (Victoria) (No 4).

    The most significant changes in relation to the use of Chambers appear to be:

    • Clause 6(1) of the Workplace Directions (No 12) no longer requires face coverings to be worn in shared spaces, although face coverings must be carried.
    • Clause 6(14) of the Workplace Directions (No 12) has doubled the density quotient limiting the number of people who may be in a shared indoor space from one person per 4 square metres to one person per 2 square metres.

    I remind you that each barrister is an ‘employer’ for the purposes of the directions and must have their own COVIDSafe Plan. A template can be found here.

    The requirement to keep a record of visitors to Chambers remains in place.

    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.

    Hopefully, this will be the last update on this subject for some time.

    Bar Council

    The Executive of the Bar Council has met weekly since the election, considering and dealing with many mundane matters. However, some important issues have and are being considered. They range from the Bar’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, to the need to replace the Bar’s ageing IT system, and to the reinstating of proper obituaries to mark the death of members. In addition, we held a workshop to settle recommendations for membership of the various Bar Committees. We will continue to meet weekly until the end of the year.

    Last night saw the last Bar Council meeting of the year, marked by a lengthy and varied agenda. Of note, this was the first meeting of the new Bar Council held in person and in the Bar Council Chamber. Covid spacing and convenience meant that some members did attend virtually, but a majority were physically present. I suppose it’s a mark of the times that this is noteworthy!

    I was able to report that Róisín Annesley QC, Helen Rofe QC and I attended (virtually) the Board meeting of the Legal Services Board and Commissioner on Tuesday 8 December 2020. It was a constructive first meeting. We received a presentation from Paul Clark, CEO & Managing Director of BCL, as to its current position, the challenges arising from Covid and how they have sought to be met. Composition of the membership of all the Bar Committees was settled, albeit with a few loose ends still to be tied off. There was discussion about the Bar’s IT system and we will report to members further on this topic in the new year. We considered at some length the new Bar conduct policy and as a result of some further questions, it will be further considered at the first Bar Council meeting in the new year.

    As a result of the numbers planned to undertake the Readers’ Course next year, Sue McNicol AM QC advised at the meeting that there was a pressing need to attract additional members to assist with mooting and marking. Another 28 people are likely to be required. In the leadup to the election, the Bar’s control of the Readers’ Course figured prominently and was clearly instrumental in the result. Here is the chance for members to not just vote about it, but to do something about it. The Readers’ Course needs your assistance in a practical way, so provide it. I encourage all members to consider assisting in this small way. Your first point of contact should be Sue via email.

    Members may be aware that the Bar’s continuing membership of the Law Council of Australia has been under consideration since the last Bar Council raised objection to payment of the capitation fee, given the very serious effect of the Covid crisis in Victoria. The issue was further discussed last night. It is fair to say it raises passionate responses on both sides of the argument. The Bar Council is still working through some matters that could not be concluded last night. We should be in a position to report further later next week.

    Also, last night, we formed a working group comprising Róisín Annesley QC, Amy Wood and the Ethics Committee to consider and deal with the recommendations of the Royal Commission. More immediately, the need for a constitutional amendment to allow for the removal of Nicola Gobbo from the roll of retired counsel was discussed. A form of amendment is being considered. As a first step, the Bar Council has resolved to request that she seek her own removal from the roll.

    As promised, we have provided a link to the approved minutes of the last Bar Council meeting, redacted to respect privacy and confidentiality where required here.

    The next Bar Council meeting is due to be held on Thursday, 28 January 2021.

    Christopher Blanden QC

    Vicbar News & Events
    Reminder: Voting for the 2020–2021 Bar Council by-election

    Voting for the Bar Council by-election takes place through a secure online portal.

    Members who are eligible to vote received an email on Wednesday, 9 November 2020, which included the link to the voting portal.

    Instructions on how to vote are here.

    Voting closes 5:00pm, Tuesday 15 December 2020.

    Appointment – His Honour Judge Justin Hannebery

    County Court of Victoria

    The Governor in Council has appointed Justin Hannebery QC as a judge of the County Court of Victoria.

    Details of the welcome ceremony will be announced when they are known.

    Appointment – Senior Registrar Anna Parker

    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 Dr Anna Parker as Senior Registrar & National Operations Registrar—Judicial Case Management, based in the Melbourne registry.

    Retirement and new appointment – Registrar of Probates

    Kate Price has been appointed the Registrar of Probates following Michael Halpin’s retirement. The Victorian Bar welcomes the appointment of Ms Price and wishes her well in her new role.

    After 27 years as the Registrar of Probates, Michael Halpin has retired from the Supreme Court of Victoria. The Victorian Bar thanks Mr Halpin for his many years of valuable service and wishes him an enjoyable retirement.

    Kate Price, formerly Deputy Registrar (Common Law Division) and Assistant Registrar of Probates at the Court, has been appointed to the position. 

    Ms Price has worked alongside Michael Halpin in the Probate Office for many years, and most recently helped deliver the RedCrest-Probate eFiling system that manages Victoria’s 22,000 annual grant applications.

    More information about Mr Halpin’s and Ms Price’s history of service to the Court is available here.

    Professional indemnity insurance

    LPLC is collecting gross fee income information from barristers as part of their preparatory work for insurance renewals in 2021/22.  All barristers will have a received an email from LPLC ( asking them to go to LPLC’s insurance portal insurance at and enter their gross fee income for the year ended 30 June 2020 as well as an estimate of gross fee income for the 2020/21 year.

    A gross fee income declaration for the last completed financial year is usually collected by LPLC upon insurance renewals, but the information is being collected earlier this year to ensure LPLC is able to give full consideration to the impact of COVID-19 on member incomes before it sets premium rates.

    Members are asked to assist LPLC by completing the requested information promptly.

    Latest graduates of the Bar’s Lawyers’ Mediation Certificate and newly qualified Victorian Bar Advanced Mediators

    The Victorian Bar is a Recognised Mediation Accreditation Body and the Bar’s ADR Committee congratulates the latest barristers on completing the Lawyers’ Mediation Certificate:

    • Klaus Mueller
    • Mark Rinaldi
    • Carrie Rome-Sievers
    • Chris Arnold
    • Adam Segal
    • Darren Ferrari
    • Louise Martin
    • Temple Saville
    • Lionel Wirth
    • Sarah Lean
    • Joel Silver
    • Scott Cromb
    • Chris Oldham
    • Brendan Johnson

    We also congratulate the following lawyers on completion of the Victorian Bar’s Lawyers’ Mediation Certificate:

    • Alan Garcia
    • Bridget Mannix.

    Victorian Bar Advanced Mediators (VBAMs) are those with high-level experience and skills in mediation. Congratulations to the latest barrister mediators who have qualified as VBAMs.

    The mediators, who became VBAMs for the first time, are as follows:

    • James Cyngler
    • Joseph Ferwerda
    • Joseph Melilli
    • Belle Lane
    • Glen Pauline
    • Catherine Gobbo
    • Rory McIvor
    • Tony Horan
    • Peter Caillard
    • Robin Harrison
    • Alexandra Fogarty
    • Sarah Hession
    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.

    Opening of the Legal Year 2021

    On Wednesday 27 January 2021, the following services for the 2021 Opening of the Legal Year will be taking place:

    • Synagogue Service

    9:00am at the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, 488 Albert Street, East Melbourne, followed by morning tea. To be confirmed subject to Covid restrictions. Judges and counsel are asked to robe (but not wig).

    • Eastern Orthodox Service

    9:00am at St Eustathios Greek Orthodox Church, 221 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. A collaborative service involving the Greek, Antiochian, Russian, Serbian and Romanian Orthodox Churches followed by morning tea with His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis and Father Evmenios Vasilopoulos, Archiepiscopal Vicars. Judges and counsel robe and medals are worn. Assemble at 8.45am for the procession. For more details, click here.

    • Red Mass

    9:00am at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne. Subject to Covid-19 restrictions, His Grace, Archbishop Peter Comensoli will host morning tea after the mass in the presbytery grounds adjacent to the cathedral. RSVP to or 9602 5440 for the morning tea. Judges and counsel robe and medals are worn.

    • Ecumenical service

    9:30am at St Paul’s Cathedral, Flinders St Melbourne, conducted by the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe. Members of all faith groups and others are welcome. Assemble prior to the service for the procession. Subject to Covid-19 restrictions. RSVPs to Judges and counsel robe and medals are worn.

    On Thursday 28 January 2021 at 9:30am, the Geelong Community Opening of the Legal Year will be hosted by the Honourable Justice Michelle Quigley. The event will be held online. Details to be confirmed.


    The Victoria Law Foundation is planning a Legal Laneway Breakfast – details to be confirmed.

    Save the Date - 2021 Victorian Bar Dinner

    The 2021 Victorian Bar Dinner will be held at the Plaza Ballroom on Friday, 21 May 2021. Be sure to keep the date free in your diary.

    BCL Property & Technology Services – Staying COVID-Safe in Chambers

    Refer to the BCL website here for the steps BCL is taking, and what members need to do, to be COVID-Safe in Chambers.

    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 – Final week

    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
    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.

    Supreme Court of Victoria updates

    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. 

    eAccess – new system for file search requests and litigation search requests

    The Supreme Court has changed the way court file search requests and litigation search requests are made with the launch of eAccess.

    As of Monday 7 December 2020, requests to search court files and litigation search requests will be made through eAccess via the Court’s eFiling system (RedCrest). This aims to further streamline electronic processes in accordance with the Supreme Court’s Digital Strategy.

    RedCrest can be accessed here.

    Court files and litigation search results will continue to be made available by email, mail or downloadable link. Existing processes will continue for Probate search requests.

    Further information on the change, including how users can register for RedCrest and how to make a search request, can be found in the Supreme Court news story here.

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

    On Thursday 10 December 2020, the County Court issued the following forms and guides:

    • Criminal Division Zoom Information Guide
    • Criminal Division WebEx Information Guide (version 3), which contains amendments to bring it in line with the Zoom guide including:
    • practitioners must file the remote hearing notification form at least seven days before the hearing date (paragraph 5.1)
    • sharing of material (paragraph 9.9), and
    • guidance on the ‘share screen’ function (section 10).
    • Remote hearing notification forms (defence, prosecution and self-represented accused).

    The new notification forms are to be used for all types of Criminal Division remote hearings, whether conducted via WebEx or Zoom (except for contravention of CCO and judicial monitoring hearings, which will remain using the current WebEx notification forms).

    The guides are available on the Court’s website here.

    The forms are available on the Court’s website here.

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

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

    VLSBC Commissioner Update December 2020

    On Tuesday 8 December 2020, the VLSBC published its latest Commissioner update.

    The update includes the following:

    •  Commissioner message
    •  Increase in fraud at law practices
    •  External examiners – what are we looking for?
    •  Trust reconciliation – deadlines extended
    •  Legal Services Council new members
    •  Changes to the Register of Lawyers
    •  Supervised legal practice conditions, and
    •  Check your details on LSB Online.

    Click here to read the update.

    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 LIV President's Diversity Paper is available 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.

    Careers & Opportunities
    Expressions of interest for trustee nominations to the Law Aid Trust

    The Victorian Bar has been invited to nominate a trustee to the Law Aid Trust, a charitable trust managed by the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar to support the funding of civil disbursements in civil litigation matters undertaken by law firms on a pro bono and “no-win, no-fee” basis. 

    The Bar is calling for expressions of interest from members who may wish to contribute as one of the Bar’s nominated Trustees. The appointment will be for a term of two years.

    A position description for the role may be viewed here. The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of Vic Bar members to external bodies can be viewed here.

    To assist the Bar Council in selecting the best candidate for the position, your expression of interest should identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise, including:

    • Experience or expertise in the matter/claim types referred to in the Position Description
    • Previous contribution to or involvement with the Trust, and
    • Contribution as a trustee or in a similar capacity with other bodies.

    Please submit your expressions of interest to Denise Bennett, Executive Assistant to the President and Bar Council, at the Victorian Bar office at

    The closing date for expressions of interest is 4:00pm, Monday 21 December 2020.

    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, 17th December 2020