In Brief Issue #995

Christopher Blanden QC

Welcome back to chambers, those who have returned. I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday and is preparing for the year ahead. The sight of a number of barristers in robes, out and about in public is at least a positive sign.

Could I encourage everyone to take every opportunity to attend court in person if they can. I think there needs to be an appreciation on the part of the Courts (and the public) that we are here and raring to get back to business. Shorts and thongs under the desk are convenient, but it’s not who we are and it’s not what we do.

Of note for the Victorian Bar, is the welcome ceremony next Monday, 1 February 2021 in the High Court in Canberra for the Honourable Justice Simon Steward. As His Honour is a former member of our Bar, we are delighted by the appointment. More on this next week.

It was my great pleasure this week to sign the contract for the printing of the Bar history book, authored by Dr Peter Yule. Members will be interested to know that according to Peter, one of the dates which has the strongest case to mark the establishment of the Victorian Bar is 12 April 1841, when the first five barristers were admitted to practice at the inaugural sitting of the Supreme Court in Melbourne. This means that on 12 April this year the Bar will be 180 years old. Not a bad achievement! May I publicly acknowledge the work done by Peter Jopling AM QC in organising the funding for this project and, of course, all those who contributed.

Bar Council

Last night, the Bar Council held its first meeting of the year. Much of the Agenda was devoted to housekeeping matters, finalising committees and the like. As a result of a request by the Bar Council late last year, Nicola Gobbo consented to the removal of her name from the Bar Roll of retired counsel, effective from Friday, 22 January 2021. The Bar Council passed a motion to that effect.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
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.

Legal Laneway Breakfast – Opening of 2021 Legal Year

For the first time ever the Legal Laneway Breakfast will be held online, moving from Hardware Lane to Zoom on Wednesday, 3 February 2021, 8:00–8:45am.

Speakers for the event are:

  • Jaclyn Symes MP, Attorney-General of Victoria
  • Benjamin Law, writer and broadcaster
  • Fiona McLeay, Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
  • Lynne Haultain, Executive Director, Victoria Law Foundation, and
  • The Hon Justice Greg Garde AO RFD, Chair, Victoria Law Foundation.

Register for free 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.

Geelong Law Association – Opening of 2021 Legal Year

On Thursday, 28 January 2021, the Geelong Law Association together with the Supreme Court of Victoria and Deakin University hosted the Opening of the Legal Year.

This year’s theme was ‘Recovery - community health, wellbeing and the law'. The event was a resounding success with many from the legal profession attending via webinar. The schedule included a Welcome to Country and Didgeridoo performance by Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Norm Stanley and Ms Nikki McKenzie.

Speakers included The Honourable Justice Quigley, Justice of the Supreme Court and President of VCAT; Mr Aaron Jolly, President of the Geelong Law Association and representing the Law Institute of Victoria; Dr Ian Freckelton QC of the Victorian Bar; Ms Bernadine McNamara, General Counsel of Barwon Health, and Professor Jennifer Lightowlers, Dean of Deakin Law School.

View the recording of the event here.

BCL Property & Technology Services – Updates

BCL recently published updates in relation to its rent relief response, safety in chambers, and FY 2020 annual report:

  • BCL response to COVIDSafe Summer and COVID-19 Safety in Chambers is available here.
  • BCL Rent Relief response (extension) is available here.
  • BCL Annual FY 2020 Annual Report is available here.
Vicbar Life
The Law Library of Victoria – December quarterly report satisfaction survey

The Law Library of Victoria has released its quarterly report for October – December 2020. The report is available here. The report is designed according to the Library’s strategic plan.

The Library team is strongly committed to improving performance and is currently seeking feedback from those who have used library services during 2020, to ascertain their level of satisfaction with the Library’s services. To complete the library satisfaction survey, please click here. The survey closes Monday, 8 February 2021.

VicBar Social Groups

Social groups organised by members of the Victorian Bar that you may wish to join are:

Studio 11 – Solo exhibition by Alexandra Copeland

Studio 11 – Always Worth a Look has now installed its exciting New Year solo Exhibition by Alexandra Copeland on level 11 Owen Dixon Chambers East. The exhibition comprises 25 delightful, robust pieces that reflect a lifetime’s work in ceramics. The exhibition runs until Friday, 19 February 2021.

Click here for the works sheet.

Click here for the artist’s statement.

Treat yourself to a visit. Everyone is welcome.

The Essoign Club – Breakfast and a la carte lunch 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 – Daily Café Menu takeaway or delivery.

Lunch dine-in – See our A La Carte Menu here for dining in.

Bar – Open till late with light snacks available.

Catering & Events – Special lunches, working lunches, private dinners or something special you may have in mind. Email us at

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

Practice & Profession News
Family and Federal Circuit Courts of Australia

The Honourable William Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, has issued Joint Practice Direction 1 of 2021 expanding the COVID-19 List currently operating in each Court.

The expansion of the COVID-19 List is a result of its success throughout 2020 in handling the increase in urgent applications filed as a result of the pandemic. As the impacts and consequential effects of the pandemic continue to change, the list has been expanded to proactively address these changes, provide greater opportunities for litigants to seek urgent assistance from the Courts via the fast-track nature of the list.

The practice direction is on each Court’s website at the following links:

County Court of Victoria – Updates and siting dates for 2021

Recommencement of Melbourne jury trials

On Wednesday, 6 January 2021, the Court released a revised version of the Recommencement of Melbourne Jury Trials – Guide for the Profession and Court Users.

The revised Guide is available on the Court’s website here.

Under paragraph 3.27 of the Guide, three mask ‘settings’ were introduced for trial participants requiring that either:

  • mask-wearing by all trial participants is required (setting 1)
  • mask-wearing by non-speaking participants is required (setting 2), and
  • mask-wearing is not required for trial participants (setting 3).

Jury trials at the Court have been operating based on ‘setting 1’ requiring mask-wearing by all trial participants. Taking into account updated health advice, the Court will move to ‘setting 2’ for all jury trials from Monday, 25 January 2021 requiring mask-wearing by non-speaking participants.

Criminal virtual hearings and eHearings

As of Monday, 18 January 2021, anyone seeking to attend a virtual hearing or eHearing in one of the following Lists is required to register their appearance/attendance by completing an online registration form at least two days before the hearing:

  • 9:00am General Crime List
  • 9:00am Sexual Offences List, and
  • 9:30am Circuit List.

An eHearing notification form is not required where a party has registered their appearance.

Registration will require each attendee to identify themselves and advise in what capacity they seek to appear.

On receipt of registration and subject to approval, a unique link will be emailed to the registered attendee to access the hearing.

The registration form is available on the Court’s website here.

For all other criminal virtual hearings and eHearings, including the 10:30am General Crime List and 10:30am Sexual Offences List, an eHearing notification form must be filed.

Sitting dates

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

Notice of Termination – Manager appointed to SW Legal Pty Ltd (Trading as ‘Shamrock Woodland Lawyers’)

On Tuesday, 26 November 2019, the Bar was notified that Mr Alan Alpass had been appointed by the Victorian Legal Services Board as the Manager to SW Legal Pty Ltd (trading as ‘Shamrock Woodland Lawyers’).

Please be advised that the appointment of Mr Alpass as Manager terminated on Friday, 18 December 2020.

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

Notice of Termination – Manager appointed to the law practice of Barry Kenna & Co

On Thursday, 17 October 2019, the Bar was notified that Mr Jeff Dunemann had been appointed by the Victorian Legal Services Board as the Manager of the sole practitioner law practice of Barry Kenna & Co.

Please be advised that the appointment of Mr Dunemann as Manager terminated on Wednesday, 16 December 2020.

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

Profession CPD & Events
2021 CIArb Australia Accelerated Route to Membership course

The 2021 Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Australia) Accelerated Route to Membership course will be delivered virtually on Saturday, 13 March and Monday, 15 March 2021.

Registrations are now open.

This course is a pathway to Membership to CIArb. CIArb accreditation carries a global qualification in the growing practice of arbitration.

The course is delivered over two virtual days. The exam is accessible remotely through CIArb’s virtual learning platform, LearnADR.  On successful completion candidates will be eligible to apply for Member grade of CIArb and to progress to Fellow grade membership status by completing Module 3 (Award Writing course).  Module 3 will be offered in the second half of 2021 to enable candidates to progress to Fellow grade membership by the end of the calendar year.

The course fee per person is AU$2,815 (inc. GST), which includes access to CIArb’s virtual learning platforms, course materials and exam assessment fee.

Places are strictly limited and will close by the close of business on Monday, 22 February 2021.

For full details and registration, please click here.

Please note this is the only CIArb Australia Accelerated Route to Membership course to be conducted in 2021.

Monash University events

Resisting the Return to Managerialism: Institutionalising the Shareholder Voice in the Monitoring Model

One of the most important contemporary developments concerning ownership of public companies is the growing concentration of shareholding in the hands of various types of financial institutions.

In this seminar on Tuesday, 2 February 2021, Professor Thomas, Professor of Management, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt Law School, will focus on a key question lying behind this development: should courts and regulators have interceded to control the forces created by such concentration of ownership of public companies?

Register here.

CLARS Law & Business Seminar Series: Startup Failure

Venture-backed startups famously “exit” by going public or selling to another company through an acquisition deal. A different path, however, is far more common – failure.

Despite the large amounts invested in venture-backed startups, and their high average rate of failure, these companies rarely use the formal Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that is embraced by distressed public companies seeking to preserving their going-concern value.

In this seminar on Thursday, 18 February 2021, Professor Pollman from Pennsylvania Law School will provide an account of startup failure, including:

  • why bankruptcy law does not fit the needs of most distressed venture-backed startups
  • what we can learn from the rare exceptions, and
  • how alternative mechanisms serve an important role in the venture capital ecosystem.

Register here.

Careers & Opportunities
Expressions of interest – ALRC Judicial Impartiality Inquiry – Practitioner roundtables

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has been asked by the Federal Attorney-General to undertake a review of the laws relating to impartiality and bias as they apply to the federal judiciary (inquiry).

The ALRC intends to hold a series of practitioner roundtables across the country to discuss issues relevant to the inquiry. COVID restrictions permitting, the ALRC expects to hold the roundtable in Melbourne on Monday, 8 February 2021.

The roundtables are intended to be relatively small (10 or so attendees) and are likely to be held at 5:30pm. Should restrictions prevent the roundtables being held in a face-to-face manner, the roundtables will be held via videoconference.

If you are interested in participating in a roundtable, please direct your expression of interest to Denise Bennett at the Victorian Bar office at by 4:00pm, Tuesday, 2 February 2021.

Background information on the practitioner roundtables can be viewed here.

Expressions of Interest – Firearms Appeals Committee

Expressions of Interest are sought from members to be nominated by the Bar to the Victorian Government for appointment to the Firearms Appeals Committee.  

The Firearms Appeals Committee (the Committee) is an independent statutory appeals body established under section 154(1) of the Firearms Act 1996 (Vic).  The function of the Committee is to review firearm licensing decisions of the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police in the circumstances in which a right to review is given to any person by or under the Act.

The Committee is to consist of 15 persons appointed by the Governor-in-Council.  Of the persons appointed to the Committee, there are to be five legal members, five ministerial members and five members form the prescribed shooting organisations.

There is currently more than one vacancy within the legal members.  The Victorian Government has requested the Bar nominate three members for consideration by the Governor-in-Council.

Expressions of Interest will be considered by the Executive, in accordance with the Victorian Bar’s external appointments protocol and a recommendation of the requisite three nominations will be provided to the Bar Council for approval at its next meeting on Thursday, 18 February 2021.

Please send your Expression of Interest by email to  In the email, please set out:

  • your expertise that is relevant to the general attributes of the role (which are set out in the position description)
  • your previous contribution to or involvement with the Committee, if applicable, and
  • in the case of members seeking reappointment, the length of time already served.

The information provided will assist the Bar Council to select the best candidate for the position.

Please attach your CV, as the Minister has requested that the Bar provide a CV for each of the Bar's nominees.

The closing date for Expressions of Interest is 5:00pm, Monday 8 February 2021.

Expressions of Interest: Judicial Registrar of the Children’s Court of Victoria

The President of the Children’s Court seeks expressions of interest from qualified persons for appointment as a Judicial Registrar.

Judicial Registrars are appointed for a period up to five years by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney-General.

To be eligible for appointment as Judicial Registrar, the successful candidate must be legally qualified and admitted to legal practice in Victoria or another State or a Territory, or enrolled as a legal practitioner of the High Court of Australia, for not less than five years.

The candidate will have substantial practice experience and a demonstrated understanding of Children’s Court processes. The candidate will also have superior communications skills, resilience, and the ability to make timely decisions in a fast-moving and complex environment.

For further information, please click here.

Animal Law Institute – Expressions of interest sought from barristers to join a panel of volunteer counsel

The Animal Law Institute (ALI) is seeking expressions of interest from barristers in Victoria, Queensland and NSW with an interest in animal protection, who would like to join our panel of volunteer counsel. 

ALI is a national non-profit community legal centre dedicated to protecting animals and advocating for their interests through the Australian legal system.

Our panel of volunteers receives email alerts whenever assistance is needed, under an opt-in system, with no minimum time commitment required. 

We currently have two opportunities: 

  1. Expressions of interest for pro bono work via direct brief (whereby counsel will work under their own insurance). 
  2. Expressions of interest to provide advice through ALI’s new Anti-Puppy Farm Legal Clinic, which will provide consumer law advice to clients who have purchased a sick pet from a negligent breeder. Volunteer counsel can either act under their own insurance or sign up as an ALI volunteer in order to be covered by our insurance. Please note that initially we will be taking on Victorian clients only. If you are from NSW or QLD but would still like to assist the Clinic, you will need to be familiar with the Australian Consumer Law and the procedures of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

You can read more about ALI and our work here. In previous years, we have briefed counsel in both advice and appearance work across a range of areas such as animal welfare law, defamation, corporate and tax law, charities law and consumer law. For example, we have successfully run proceedings in VCAT in relation to a dog breeder’s liability for past and future veterinary expenses under the consumer law in respect of hereditary illnesses. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for counsel to undertake pro bono work and to engage with our volunteer lawyers, many of whom are from top tier firms (which may also present a marketing opportunity for counsel). Counsel will receive support from a lawyer and paralegal in all matters. 

We also recommend that counsel put in place conditional costs agreements in any litigious matters so your legal fees may be recovered.

If you are interested in joining our panel of volunteer counsel, or have any further questions, please send an email with your name, contact details and main practice area to Erin Germantis at

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, 4th February 2021