In Brief Issue #994

Christopher Blanden QC

This will be the final ‘In Brief’ for the year.

A strategy day will be one of the first undertakings of the Bar Council in the new year. We have fixed Saturday, 6 February 2021 as an appropriate date.


On behalf of members, may I extend our congratulations to Peter Chadwick QC on his recent election to the Bar Council. May I also thank all those who nominated for the election.

Law Council of Australia

The Bar Council has resolved to pay the outstanding capitation fee, which is due and payable to the LCA. We are continuing discussions with the LCA as to our involvement in the future. I anticipate we will reach a concluded view early in the New Year and will report to members accordingly.

Bar Office

Katherine Lorenz, CEO of the Victorian Bar, has tendered her resignation, which takes effect today.

Ms Lorenz loyally served as CEO under the two previous Bar Councils, led by Dr Matt Collins AM QC and Wendy Harris QC respectively, and worked hard towards achieving the strategic aims set by those Bar Councils.

We wish her well in her future endeavours outside the Victorian Bar.


The usual end of year sporting activities of the Bar have been significantly curtailed by continuing Covid concerns. Nonetheless, I am able to report a bright spot on an otherwise dull horizon. Last Saturday, the Bar and Bench defeated the Solicitors 3 sets to 1, to regain the J.B. Box Trophy for the first time since 2015. The match was played at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. Congratulations to all the participants.

Season’s Greetings

It has been a long and difficult year for everyone, with sections of the Bar particularly hard hit. I suspect most can’t wait for the year to end. At least the New Year brings the promise of the resumption of jury trials and a return to actual, rather than virtual, courtrooms. On behalf of the Bar Council, may I wish all our members and staff a Merry Christmas and the compliments of the season. Hopefully, we will all return refreshed and renewed after a break.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Judicial appointments to the Supreme Court of Victoria

The Executive Council has appointed three members of the Bar to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court Trial Division:

  • The Honourable Justice Maree Evelyn Kennedy as a Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Since 2016, Justice Kennedy has been a Judge of the Court following more than 25 years in the legal profession as a barrister, Senior Counsel and Judge of the County Court. While at the County Court, her Honour was instrumental in establishing the Commercial List – which in 2014 became a Division in its own right. Justice Kennedy practised in a wide variety of jurisdictions including public law, commercial law and crime. Her Honour holds a Master of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics from Monash University. 

  • Mr James Peter Gorton QC as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Following Mr Gorton’s admission in 1993 he worked at Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) before being admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1996. He practised initially in commercial law and insolvency, going on to develop a trial and appellate practice in many areas including insurance, judicial review and compensation law. Mr Gorton was appointed QC in 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.

  • Mr Michael Sumner Osborne QC as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Mr Osborne has over 25 years’ experience at the Victorian Bar in a range of practice areas including commercial, equity and trusts, insurance and professional liability. His trial and appellate practice covers the full scope of domestic and international commercial litigation, advice and mediation. Mr Osborne was appointed QC in 2013. He holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne. 

The Executive Council has also appointed Judicial Registrar Patricia Anne Matthews as an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Ms Matthews has been a Judicial Registrar at the Supreme Court of Victoria since 2017. Prior to that, she worked at King & Wood Mallesons for 14 years, including as special counsel, where she acted in matters across a broad range of civil jurisdiction such as common law actions and commercial matters.

All appointments were effective Tuesday, 15 December 2020.

The Victorian Bar warmly congratulates the appointees on their well-deserved appointments and wishes them well in the next stage of their careers.

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

Elizabeth Ruddle S.C. appointed Senior Crown Prosecutor at the Office of Public Prosecutions, Victoria

On Wednesday, 9 December 2020, the Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC and Chief Crown Prosecutor Brendan Kissane QC welcomed the appointment of Elizabeth Ruddle S.C. as a Senior Crown Prosecutor.

The Victorian Bar warmly congratulates Ms Ruddle on her well-deserved appointment and wishes her well in the next stage of her career.

Ms Ruddle joined the Bar in May 2005 and established a successful practice in commercial, criminal and property law.

She is an active member of the Bar having served on the Bar Council and the Indigenous Justice Committee. Ms Ruddle also mentored numerous new barristers and is a trainer for the Readers' Course.

Ms Ruddle’s outstanding expertise was recognised with her appointment as Senior Counsel in October 2020.

The official announcement is here.

Nominations are open for the 2021 Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards

The Victorian Bar has a proud culture and tradition of providing pro bono assistance. Many of us know of colleagues who make an outstanding contribution representing parties on a pro bono basis. Please consider nominating them for the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards for pro bono work provided during 2019 and 2020. 

The nomination form available here contains more information about the Awards and categories.

Nominations close Wednesday, 31 March 2021.

The Awards ceremony is scheduled for Monday, 5 May 2021 in the Supreme Court Library.

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.

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

The following services for the 2021 Opening of the Legal Year will be taking place:

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

  • 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 and counsel robe and medals are worn.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

  • Geelong Community Opening of the Legal Year

9:30am online and will be hosted by the Honourable Justice Michelle Quigley. Details to be confirmed.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

  • Virtual Legal Laneway Breakfast 2021

8:00am online and is open to all members of the legal community. For the first time ever the Legal Laneway Breakfast will be held online, moving from Hardware Lane to Zoom. For more details, click here.

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
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 - Holiday closure and reopening dates

Dear Essoign Club members,

The Club’s final day of trade for 2020 will be Tuesday, 22 December 2020.

The Club will reopen the café from Monday, 11 January 2021 and return to full trade from Monday, 18 January 2021.

We appreciate your ongoing support and look forward to seeing you in the Club in 2021.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2021.

Practice & Profession News
Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia – update on the COVID-19 List

The COVID-19 List operating in the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia is expanding. The expanded COVID-19 List will operate from Wednesday, 20 January 2021 and an updated Joint Practice Direction will be issued prior to that date.

The expanded criteria will capture matters directly or indirectly related to COVID-19, and if indirectly, have a significant connection to COVID-19. Which applications will be accepted into the expanded COVID-19 is at the discretion of the National Registrar or Judge assessing the application. However, to provide a degree of guidance, the following are examples of applications that may be considered suitable, subject to the specifics of each case, for filing in the COVID-19 List: 

  1. Family violence: There has been an escalation or increase in risk due to family violence associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include (but are not limited to) a breach of a family violence order, a party being charged with family violence-related offences or recent child welfare agency involvement with the family related to family violence concerns.
  2. Suspension of parenting orders due to a family violence order: Where either parenting orders or a parenting plan have been suspended by an ex parte family violence order made during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a party seeks that the Court make further parenting orders.
  3. Medical: The parties cannot fulfil the parenting obligations due to a party and/or child testing positive for COVID-19 or medical complications from having contracted COVID-19, or due to concerns about infection or quarantine requirements.
  4. Vaccinations: At the relevant time, there is a dispute about a child being vaccinated against COVID-19.
  5. Supervised contact: The current parenting arrangements involve supervised contact, and the contact centre is closed, or the supervisor is unable to perform their role, and the parties cannot agree on an alternative arrangement.
  6. Travel arrangements or border restrictions: The parties live in different States or Territories, and there are difficulties or anticipated difficulties with the child travelling between the parties’ residences, including due to any Government restrictions, or a party is planning international travel.
  7. Urgent or priority financial and maintenance issues: A party is experiencing financial distress related to the impact of COVID-19 and requires urgent court orders, for example, an application for occupation or sale of a property.
  8. Failure to resume time in accordance with parenting orders or a parenting plan: Where parties agreed to suspend parenting orders or a parenting plan due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there has been a failure or refusal to resume compliance with those parenting orders or that parenting plan following the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.
  9. COVID-19 related employment: A party is a front-line health worker or engaged in other employment connected with COVID-19 that is impacting parenting arrangements or compliance with orders.

Matters which are assessed as suitable for the List and are urgent will continue to be given a first court date before a Judge, Senior Registrar or Registrar for an initial hearing within three business days. Where matters are otherwise assessed as suitable for the List, but an urgent date is not necessary, they will be listed for an initial hearing within seven business days.

If applications do not meet the criteria, but they are urgent, they will continue to go into the normal abridgement list. If they are not urgent, they will be treated like any other application and be referred to the Duty Lists.

Magistrate Jack Vandersteen appointed as the next president of the Children's Court and as a judge of the County Court

On Tuesday, 15 December 2020, the County Court welcomed Magistrate Jack Vandersteen's appointment as the next President of the Children's Court and as a Judge of the County Court.

Mr Vandersteen has served as a Magistrate for the past 11 years. During this time, he fast-tracked family violence matters and overhauled listing practices as Regional Co-ordinating Magistrate for the Dandenong Region. These reforms led to a significant reduction in delays and pending cases in both the Magistrates' and Children's Court – reducing recidivism by offenders and improving timely access to justice for the community.

For more information about Mr Vandersteen's career and appointment, click here.

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

On Thursday, 17 December 2020, the County Court released an updated guide to Melbourne jury trials (version 3), which is located on the Court’s website here.

Amendments to the new version include:

  • Provision for an increased jury panel
  • Removal of the requirement that all persons speaking in Court must wear a mask and associated amendments (including to suggested judicial scripts)
  • Removal of references to the use of face shields (and the safe use protocol) on the basis that in-person witnesses may remove their mask when giving evidence
  • Removal of obsolete references to the ‘initial resumption period’
  • Clarification of the daily screening questions asked by a court security officer
  • Clarification of when cleaning is required for a suspected case
  • Correction of the description of the Accident Incident Report system (AIRs)
  • Amendments to the distribution of initial sitting times across courts, based on the lift used by the jury courtroom, and
  • Provision of a checklist/summary of the expedited testing protocol for staff and updates the forms and information sheets to non-juror trial participants.

On Thursday, 10 December 2020, the 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)
  • Guidance on the ‘share screen’ function (section 10), and
  • 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 available here.

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

2021 Law Council of Australia Executive announced

On Thursday, 10 December 2020, the Law Council of Australia announced that at its recent Directors’ Meeting, the following Directors were elected as Members of the Law Council Executive for 2021:

  • Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President
  • Mr Tass Liveris, President-elect
  • Mr Ross Drinnan, Treasurer
  • Mr Luke Murphy, Executive Member
  • Mr Greg McIntyre SC, Executive Member
  • Ms Caroline Counsel, Executive Member

To read the full announcement, please click here.

Notice of Termination – Manager apointed to the Law Practice of Jonathan King trading as U-Law

On Thursday, 4 June 2020, the Bar was notified that Ms Madeline Prior had been appointed by the Victorian Legal Services Board as the Manager to the sole practitioner law practice of Jonathan King, trading as U-Law.

Please be advised that the appointment of Ms Prior as Manager terminated on Friday, 11 December 2020.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Reshma Pickering on 03 9679 8048 or email

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.

Supreme Court of Victoria releases a special episode of Gertie’s Law - ‘Court in a Pandemic’

The Supreme Court of Victoria’s award-winning podcast returned on Friday, 11 December 2020 with a special episode taking listeners inside the virtual courtrooms during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In a special episode, ‘Court in a Pandemic’, Gertie’s Law goes behind the scenes to explore how the 168-year-old institution adapted to its challenging new environment.

The episode 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
Senior Lawyer - Common Law Division, Supreme Court of Victoria

Senior legal role in the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria – VPS Grade 5 - Full time, ongoing.

The Supreme Court of Victoria is seeking a motivated and experienced lawyer to play a key role in management of cases in the Common Law Division’s Judicial Review and Appeals (JRA) and Valuation Compensation and Planning (VCP) Lists.

The successful candidate for this Senior Lawyer role will be a leading member of a small team providing expert legal and procedural support to judicial officers in the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court in order to promote just, efficient, timely and cost effective resolution of proceedings.

Applications close Tuesday, 19 January 2021.

For more information and to apply, click here.

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.

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, 28th January 2021