In Brief Issue #999

Christopher Blanden QC

Members may have seen an advertisement in the weekend paper for the position of Executive Director of the Bar office. Both the title and some of the functions of the person we will engage in running the administrative side of the Bar have changed. The changes are in line with the current Bar Council's view that the Bar Council and Bar office's respective functions needed to be differently and better delineated. We hope to complete the process of engaging a new person for this role in the next few weeks and will advise members accordingly.

On Wednesday evening, the Bar launched its new health and wellbeing portal. The portal is designed to provide information and practical resources to support members and their families address the particular issues that may confront barristers. My congratulations to the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Committee, Sally Flynn QC, and all those who played a part in getting the portal up and running. Our thanks also to the Victorian Legal Services Board Commissioner, Fiona McLeay, for financially supporting the development of the portal. I encourage you to browse the portal here.

Last week, I referred to the members of the Bar who we have lost in the last year or so and the way our recognition of them has been compromised. Last night, I had the great pleasure to attend a dinner to commemorate the life of the late, great Peter O'Callaghan QC, who really was a legend of our Bar in every sense. As one would expect, there was a large and distinguished turnout and some wonderful speeches reflecting on Peter's life and achievements. Although Peter will be sorely missed, his memory will endure through our gallery named in his honour.

Christopher Blanden QC

Vicbar News & Events
Nominations for the 2021 Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards close 31 March

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 assistance 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 Wednesday, 5 May 2021.

New health and wellbeing portal for members

The Victorian Bar is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of members. The Bar launched its health and wellbeing portal in February 2021. The portal is a landmark initiative designed to enable barristers to access the information and support they need to manage various difficulties that they may face during their careers quickly and easily.

The Victorian Bar acknowledges the financial support of the Legal Services Board + Commissioner in developing the portal.

For support and useful information on issues that you or someone you know is facing, we encourage you to visit

If you have any feedback about the portal, or wish to contribute stories about your maintain your health or overcame challenges, please email or email Sally Flynn at

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.

Victorian Bar member CPD and events

The following are highlights of upcoming CPD and events for Victorian Bar members. You must be a member of the Victorian Bar and logged into the VicBar website to view these events.

  • Confidentiality and Admissibility of Statements Made at and Documents Produced for Mediation is on Monday, 1 March, 5–6:00pm. This seminar will outline the ethical duties of lawyers and mediators, the essential do's and don'ts before, during and after mediation, including the subtle nuances that can ensure confidentiality is protected. This seminar will be held at the Neil McPhee Room, Level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East. Click here to register.
  • Tackling Modern Slavery - Civil and Criminal Law perspectives is on Tuesday, 2 March, 5–6:00pm. In this CPD, the speakers will outline current and potential future legal developments in tackling modern slavery in Australia from both a civil and criminal law perspective, drawing upon their experiences in key cases in the United Kingdom. Click here to register for this online event.

For more upcoming CPD events, please visit our listings here.

PHOTO 2021 Congo Tales at the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery

The Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery is proud to participate in PHOTO 2021, a biennial celebration of photography taking place throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria from Thursday, 18 February to Sunday, 7 March 2021. This year’s theme is Truth. Pieter Henket’s Congo Tales will be on display in the Gallery from Monday, 8 February 2021. Take a moment to admire these luminous works. You can read about the Congo Tales suite here.

Vicbar Life
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 has been extended to 5:00pm Thursday, 4 March 2021. All ceramic works are available for purchase.

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.

VicBar Choir

Time: 1:15–2:15pm on Wednesdays via Zoom.

Dates: The choir will meet for an eight-week term, starting 10 February to 31 March 2021.

Cost: $30 a week (casual – fee relief readily available) – $240 a term, free trial session.

For more information, contact Emma Swart on 0411 239 278 or

Practice & Profession News
Statement from the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Courts released a statement on Tuesday, 23 February 2021, regarding the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2020 and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020, which have passed and await Royal Assent.

The new Acts will create an amalgamated Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) with two Divisions: one which will include judges of the Family Court of Australia dealing with the most complex matters and exercising appellate jurisdiction, the other consisting of judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which will be the single point of entry for family law and child support cases.

The full statement is here.

Family Court of Australia – Lighthouse Project update

With the Lighthouse Project Pilot now well underway, the Court calls upon the profession to familiarise themselves with this important project and communicate the process and benefits with their clients. Please refer to the update and FAQs released by the Court here.

Court COVID updates

The County Court has published consolidated information on operations changes in response to COVID-19 across its Criminal, Common Law, and Commercial Divisions. The Court’s Registry is operational, but face-to-face services are limited. Click here for more information.

For up-to-date information about the Courts’ responses, please visit their websites:

  • Federal Court of Australia – see here.
  • Family Court of Australia – see here.
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia – see here.
  • Supreme Court of Victoria – see here.
  • County Court of Victoria – see here.
  • Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – see here.
Legal Services Council – Annual Report

The Legal Services Council has released its Annual Report of the Legal Services Council and the Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation, which is available here.

Reports from previous years are also available on the LSC website.

The National Brief #1

The ABA has launched a new communication from ABA President, Matthew Howard SC. You can read the first edition of The National Brief about the priorities of the ABA in 2021, and including the first in the ABA podcast series about steps the profession needs to take to eliminate sexual harassment and support a culture of respect and diversity, here.

Judicial College of Victoria – Victorian Sentencing Manual updated

The Victorian Sentencing Manual has been updated to include a new Chapter 26 - Other offences against the person. Offences include:  

  • Kidnapping, false imprisonment and child stealing
  • Blackmail, extortion, and threats, and
  • Endangerment offences.

Find out more here.

Legal Literate app

Migration Council Australia’s Legal Literate app is a free plain English glossary app containing more than 500 common legal terms used in Australian courts and tribunals.

The Legal Literate app aims to assist interpreters working in Australian courts and tribunals.

For more information, click here.

It is available for both Android and iOS.

Profession CPD & Events
Halliburton v Chubb: Implications for Arbitration in Australia

Please join the Maritime Law Association for a free presentation on Halliburton v Chubb: Implications for Arbitration in Australia on Tuesday, 2 March 2021 at 5:00pm.

This seminar looks at the recent UK decision of Halliburton v Chubb:

  • What was decided and why is it important?
  • Issues for Appointors, and
  • Disclosure issues for arbitrators.

Click here for more information.

Lenten Retreat for the Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’ Association

The Melbourne Catholic Lawyers’ Association invites members of the Bar to its half-day retreat on Sunday, 14 March 2021, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 91 Manning Road, Malvern East.

Fr Peter Fitzsimons, a legal academic who has also practised in commercial, corporate and competition law in NSW and New Zealand, is leading the retreat. 

The retreat program can be found at

Click here to book.

LAWASIA – Constitutional and rule of law webinar series

Jointly organised by LAWASIA, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Law Council of Australia and the South Pacific Lawyers Association, the series will run for four weeks, every Thursday from 18 February to 11 March 2021.

Registration is complimentary, and LAWASIA members, friends and supporters are encouraged to attend the webinars on offer.

  • Constitutional Breakdowns, Coups, Crises and Disruptions: Experiences from the Commonwealth is on Thursday, 4 March 2021 at 4:30–6:00pm AEST. Learn more and register here.
  • The Role of Law Associations in Promoting the Rule of Law (Law Council of Australia) is on Thursday, 11 March 2021 at 4:30–6:00 AEST. Learn more and register here.

More information about the series is here.

Resolution Institute – ODR Practitioner's Certificate

ODR Practitioner's Certificate – Be recognised as an international online dispute resolution practitioner with this first-of-its-kind programme in Australia. For more information, click here.

Careers & Opportunities
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 March 2021