The High Court of Australia
On Monday, I had the very great honour to represent our Bar at a Special Sitting to welcome the Honourable Justice Steward as a Justice of the High Court in Canberra. Notwithstanding travel restrictions and the need for Border Entry Permits to get home, a significant number of Barristers and Judges from Victoria made the journey to mark His Honour’s appointment to the Court. Although numbers were limited as a result of COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT, it was a fitting occasion, particularly as we are unlikely to see another Victorian appointment to the Court for some time. We wish His Honour well in the long and distinguished career that will no doubt follow. The speech I made is available to read here.
The Supreme Court Library
The Supreme Court Library is now open, and Barristers once again have full access to consult the library collection on site during opening hours.
The librarians are prioritising health and safety, and ask that Library visitors comply with signage in the Court precinct with regard to masks, hygiene, social distancing and recording attendance.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne, the Law Library negotiated with publishers to provide gratis and exclusive access to subscription items for Victorian Barristers. Most of those arrangements are now ended, and the Library will help you transition your research to the digital services that remain. Your Library website is here.
On Tuesday, 2 February 2021, Paul Hayes QC and Darryl Burnett met with the Chief Magistrate Her Honour Judge Lisa Hannan for the second time, about the re-introduction of in-person appearances. Strict COVID-19 guidelines for indoor capacity in government buildings have made it impossible to have en masse attendances as we had before COVID-19. The salient points from the meeting were:
The Bar will produce a pro forma application form to assist the Court, which will be distributed to members.
The Bar Council is holding a planning and strategy day on Saturday, 6 February 2021. The venue is the Bar Council Chambers and the Essoign is catering.
There is a wide-ranging programme, which we hope will assist in setting the agenda of the Bar for the year to come.
Christopher Blanden QC