Past Chairman - Will Alstergren QC

Election to the 2014/15 Bar Council

[7 Nov 2014]

There are just a few more days left before voting closes in the Bar Council Election. Voting papers must be returned so as to reach the Honorary Secretary C/- the Executive Assistant at the Bar Office by no later than 5pm on Wednesday 12 November. See side panel for all the details.

Honorary Doctor of Laws for Justice Virginia Bell AC

[7 Nov 2014]

The Hon. Justice Virginia Bell AC has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Sydney for her outstanding contribution to Australian law through leadership in criminal law reform and public policy development and most notably as an advocate for the economically and socially disadvantaged. The degree was conferred at a ceremony on 1 November 2014.

Australian Bar Association website launch

[31 Oct 2014]

The ABA has launched its new website, including a comprehensive national directory of barristers.

ABA Advanced Trial Advocacy Course

[31 Oct 2014]

The Australian Bar Association Advanced Trial Advocacy Course, Excellence in Advocacy, will be held in Melbourne from 19 - 23 January 2015 at the Federal Court Complex. This is a five day residential course that will further develop your skills as an experienced barrister. The course focuses on developing strengths in addressing, examining-in-chief and cross-examining and provides the option of either a criminal or civil brief, both based upon real cases. The coaches include senior Australian judges as well as senior international and Australian silks and juniors and professional voice, movement and impact coaches. For full details see side panel.

Congratulations

[31 Oct 2014]

Congratulations to Sharon Burchell who was awarded the Junior Counsel Award in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Award on Friday 17 October. Clare Exell, also of our Bar, was the other finalist in the category.

Victorian Bar and Law Institute of Victoria Conference

[24 Oct 2014]

The first ever joint Vic Bar and LIV conference took place last Friday. I am delighted to report that the conference was attended by large numbers of corporate counsel, solicitors and barristers and was an outstanding success. I would like to thank the eminent speakers from all parts of the profession for giving the attendees such an informative day. It was particularly gratifying to see so many barristers taking the opportunity to foster relationships with solicitors and corporate counsel. I would like to thank the staff in the Bar Office for their magnificent work in organising the conference, and in particular Sally Bodman and Courtney Bow.

New readers sign the roll

[24 Oct 2014]

The first ever joint Vic Bar and LIV conference took place last Friday. I am delighted to report that the conference was attended by large numbers of corporate counsel, solicitors and barristers and was an outstanding success. I would like to thank the eminent speakers from all parts of the profession for giving the attendees such an informative day. It was particularly gratifying to see so many barristers taking the opportunity to foster relationships with solicitors and corporate counsel. I would like to thank the staff in the Bar Office for their magnificent work in organising the conference, and in particular Sally Bodman and Courtney Bow.

Appointment of Timothy Bourke to the Magistrates' Court

[24 Oct 2014]

This week the Governor in Council appointed Timothy Bourke to the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. His Honour is a former practicing member of the Victorian Bar, having signed the Bar Roll on 29 April 2004. Before coming to the Bar his Honour had a career in the Magistrates' Court, starting as a trainee Clerk in 1986 and eventually becoming the first State Coordinating Registrar. After completing articles his Honour practised as a solicitor before coming to the Bar. I congratulate his Honour on his appointment and wish him well as he serves the Court. Click here.

Appointment of the inaugural chair of the Legal Services Council

[24 Oct 2014]

This week former Federal Court Chief Justice Michael Black AC, QC was appointed inaugural chair of the Legal Services Council. The Legal Services Council will oversee the implementation of the Legal Profession Uniform Law to ensure its consistent application across participating jurisdictions. The Hon. Michael Black was appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia in 1991 and held the position for almost 20 years. Prior to his appointment as Chief Justice, he practised at the Victorian Bar for 27 years. I congratulate The Hon. Michael Black and wish him well in his new role.

Victorian Bar and Law Institute of Victoria Conference

[16 Oct 2014]

The first ever joint Vic Bar and LIV conference is on tomorrow. We are delighted to report that we have had an overwhelming response from corporate counsel, solicitors and barristers. We have a marvellous line up of eminent speakers from all parts of the profession, and we are looking forward to a great day.

Victorian Bar and Law Institute of Victoria Conference

[10 Oct 2014]

A reminder that the Vic Bar and LIV conference is on next Friday. We have had an overwhelming response, with more than half of the registrations from solicitors and corporate counsel. As a consquence we have had to negotiate more space. Please do come along and represent the Bar - the solicitors are keen to meet barristers. You must register by midday next Wednesday if you wish to attend.

Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery Opening

[10 Oct 2014]

Thank you to those of you who attended the launch of the new Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery. The event was a great success and it is wonderful to be able to honour Peter in this way. Attendees included the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Federal Attorney General. The Honourable Justice Crennan AC made an excellent address. We thank Peter Jopling AM QC and the members of the Art and Collections Committee for their work in collating the portraits.

Finally, Stephen Hare, CEO of the Victorian Bar, will be leaving at the start of next year. Stephen has done a tremendous amount of excellent work over the past seven years, and we will be sad to see him go. The search for a suitable replacement has begun.

Early Bird closes today for Victorian Bar and LIV Legal Conference

[3 Oct 2014]

The early bird rate closes today for the Victorian Bar and LIV's legal conference, to be held on 17 October 2014 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Registrations are coming in fast for this conference so make sure you don’t miss this first time event for the law profession. A full copy of the program including speakers, sessions and registration form is available here. Registration is available online here.

International Malaysia Law Conference

[3 Oct 2014]

I recently attended the International Malaysia Law Conference held at the Royale Chulan Hotel, KL. The theme of the Conference was “Reshaping the Legal Profession, Reforming the Law” which addressed and highlighted issues pertaining to the changing environment of legal practice, the need for reform and development of the law.  

Of particular note was a presentation by the Honourable Justice Kiefel AC in relation to "Actions for negligence against barristers in England and Australia" and the question of barrister's immunity.   

Her Honour noted the differences that exist within the jurisdictions of England, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Malaysia. Broadly speaking, whilst Australia currently retains the immunity, England, New Zealand, and Singapore do not. The position appears unclear in India, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The question of barrister's immunity is important to us all. The differences between jurisdictions should also be borne in mind for those engaging in overseas practice.

Her Honour prepared a paper, which provides a useful synthesis of key cases and reasoning in relation to the immunity. To view the paper in full, click here.

In addition I note that the NSW Court of Appeal has just yesterday handed down two decisions relating to advocate's immunity.  

http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=174357
http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=174341

As part of my trip I have had meetings with both the Kuala Lumpur international arbitration centre and the Malaysian Bar. Both are very keen to establish direct ties with the Victorian Bar and to develop a relationship which would involve Victorian Barristers appearing in their jurisdiction. There are very good opportunities for international arbitration in Malaysia for our members to either appear as arbitrators or in arbitration's as advocates. As I was the only Chairman of a state Bar Council to attend I was able to promote the Victorian Bar effectively.

The Malaysian Bar is currently drawing up an agreement for us to enter in to. I anticipate that there will be no cost to the Bar in doing so. I also met with the Chief Justice of Hong Kong who is also keen to better establish a relationship with the Victorian Bar and has invited me to attend a meeting with him later in the year. These opportunities are very important given that the Chief Justice of the Federal Court said only recently that he anticipates that over 80% of disputes in the future will be decided by arbitration. We must continue to look at opportunities in other jurisdictions for our members.

Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery

[3 Oct 2014]

The Peter O’Callaghan QC gallery, which showcases the leaders of our Bar, past and present,  is now complete and will be officially opened as the Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery on 8 October by Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC. We hope to see you for what will be a great occasion for the Bar. Make sure you RSVP to Courtney Bow.

Early Bird extended for Victorian Bar and LIV Legal Conference

[26 Sep 2014]

In light of the substantial response we have agreed to extend the early bird rate to Friday 3 October for the Victorian Bar and LIV's legal conference, to be held on 17 October 2014 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.  The conference will be attended by barristers, solicitors, judges, government representatives and corporate counsel.  We encourage you to take advantage of the early bird rate, and to extend the invitation amongst your networks including instructors.  
Registration is open online here. Book before 3 October to get the Early Bird rate.

A full copy of the program including speakers, sessions and registration form is available here.

Welcome - The Honourable Justice Michael Phillip McDonald

[19 Sep 2014]

Congratulations to the Honourable Justice Michael Phillip McDonald on his appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The Welcome will be in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria, 210 William Street Melbourne on Tuesday 23 September 2014 at 9:15 am. All counsel who are able to do so are asked to attend, robed (including wigs).

Victorian Bar Choir

[19 Sep 2014]

Congratulations to the Victorian Bar Choir, who had a recent feature in The Age, and also delivered a wonderful performance in the Essoign Club last night.

Vic Bar and LIV Conference

[19 Sep 2014]

And a reminder to sign up for the Victorian Bar and LIV Joint Conference on 17 October 2014 - early birds must be in by next Tuesday, 23 September.

Victorian Bar and Law Institute of Victoria Conference

[12 Sep 2014]

The Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria will be holding a Joint Conference on Friday 17 October 2014, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.   
 
This conference has been organised for the benefit of the whole profession and to celebrate the strong relationships and mutual respect enjoyed by the Bar, the LIV, the Bench and Corporate Counsel.

We are delighted to have so many eminent speakers from all parts of the profession including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Attorney General for the State of Victoria and the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, other eminent members of the Bench, leaders from the Victorian Bar, major law firms and Corporate Counsel. The topics and the speakers have been specially chosen and include a discussion panel to maximise participation.

The topics include some of the greatest concerns facing litigation in Australia, including cost effective litigation, the role of regulators, class actions, the future of litigation funding, overarching obligations and international arbitration.

Registration is now open online here. Book before 23 September to get the Early Bird rate.

A full copy of the program including speakers, sessions and registration form is available here.
 
In other news, the Legal Profession Uniform Law is under development. It is anticipated that the uniform scheme will commence in 2015. 

Obituary - His Honour Warren Fagan QC Chev LH

[12 Sep 2014]

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death this morning  of retired County Court Judge, His Honour Warren Fagan QC.  It was just a couple of years ago that His Honour was made a Chevalier in the Order of the Légion d'Honneur – the French equivalent of a Knighthood.  An obituary will be posted next week and service details announced as soon as they become known.

News from the Chairman

[5 Sep 2014]

Congratulations to the Honourable Justice Christopher William Beale on his appointment on 2 September 2014 as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. A Welcome will be in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court on Friday 12 September 2014 at 9.15am.

A reminder that a Welcome for the Honourable Justice Cameron will be in the Banco Court on Wednesday 10 September 2014 at 9.15am.  

The Bar congratulates Justice Neave AO on her career on the Court of Appeal, and is delighted that she has agreed to continue as a reserve judge of appeal.

The Honourable Chief Justice, Marilyn Warren AC made a wonderful speech on Tuesday upon Justice Neave's first sitting as a reserve judge, celebrating her career as an academic and on the Bench. We wish her Honour all the best on her eventual retirement.

I welcome the September 2014 Bar Readers, who have commenced their course this week.  

Finally, on 1 September the Victorian Bar released a statement expressing concern over the State Government's proposed 'coward punch' laws, which would require judges to impose mandatory minimum non-parole periods of at least 10 years, in cases of 'one punch' manslaughter in circumstances where an offender knew that the victim was not expecting the punch or strike, and died as a result of the blow.  The Bar's position is that it is the Court's role to determine sentences according to the evidence, including the particular facts of the offence and the particular circumstances of the offender.

Marketing, CPD and Events

[29 Aug 2014]

The Bar continues to undertake a variety of activities on behalf of barristers with a real focus on building the reputation of the Bar and establishing and building relationships with solicitors and Corporate Counsel. We have had a busy week this week with a dinner with the board of VLA on Tuesday and a CPD for barristers and invited Corporate Counsel on Wednesday.

The dinner with the VLA was held with a view of building work for our junior members of the Criminal Bar. Discussions focussed on a pilot scheme enabling direct briefing of barristers in summary criminal matters. We are looking to run advertisements and communications to establish interest in the scheme. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

The event on Wednesday night with Corporate Counsel was a great success and all feedback was extremely positive. Corporate Counsel and other in-house counsel compromise 30% of the profession.  The Hon Justice Michelle Gordon and the Hon Justice Anne Fergson led a stellar panel comprised of leading corporate counsel:

Peter Larsen, Senior Counsel, Newcrest Mining
Caroline Cox, BHP Biliton
Felicity Walsh, General Counsel, Paper Australia
Sue Laver, Dispute Resolution General Counsel, Telstra
Simon Rooke, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

My thanks to Justice Gordon for organising what was said by many who were there to be one of the best CPDs they had ever attended.

We continue to have a range of high quality CPDs, such as from Justice Hayne last night, on applications for special leave.

We are also holding a common law CPD on 8 September with Justices Rush and J Forrest and Gillies QC and Ruskin QC. A number of solicitors have been invited. Please use this excellent opportunity to bring guests and network. Drinks will be served after the CPD. 

Marketing Working Group

[29 Aug 2014]

The focus of the Bar's  energy has changed in part to marketing. If we are to flourish as a Bar we have to engage with the profession and promote our junior barristers. We are keen to establish a marketing working group. If you are interested please contact Marketing Manager, Sally Bodman on sally.bodman@vicbar.com.au.

Owen Dixon West Extension

[29 Aug 2014]

The completion of the two new floors of chambers atop Owen Dixon West is on schedule and we look forward to the supply of those new chambers later this year.

CPD Conference

[29 Aug 2014]

Preparation also continues for the CPD Conference on October 17. The program is almost finalised and includes around 40 speakers from the Bar, the Bench and from Melbourne’s top law firms and Corporates speaking on the current big issues in high stakes litigation. The registration forms will be out soon, but make sure you save the date in your diaries.

Celebration of the Life and Career of the late Dr John Emmerson QC

[29 Aug 2014]

You would have heard the sad news that Dr John Emmerson QC passed away on 14 August. He was buried this afternoon. Click here to read a Notice prepared for him.

Many of you would have unfortunately missed the service. I have been contacted by a number of John’s friends who wish to give him a send-off with a wake at the Bar in the Essoign Club on Thursday 4 September starting at 5pm. A few bottles will be purchased and then everyone can buy their own drinks.

Welcome

[22 Aug 2014]

The profession will extend a Welcome to the Honourable Justice Joanne Margaret Cameron as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria, 210 William Street Melbourne on Wednesday 10 September 2014 at 9:15 am. All counsel who are able to do so are asked to attend, robed (including wigs).

Pro Bono Award Nominations

[22 Aug 2014]

A reminder that nominations are now open for the 2014 Pro Bono Awards. The Awards are a great way to recognise the outstanding pro bono contributions and achievements of Victorian barristers. I encourage counsel to nominate their colleagues in one or more of the six Award categories. The nomination form is available here.

CPD by the Honourable Justice Hayne AC

[22 Aug 2014]

We are fortunate to have the Honourable Justice Kenneth Hayne AC present a CPD seminar next Thursday, 28 August 2014 at 5.15pm on the topic of Applications for Special Leave to the High Court of Australia.

Judicial Appointments - Justice Ferguson and Justice Cameron

[15 Aug 2014]

The Victorian Bar congratulates the Honourable Justice Anne Ferguson upon her appointment to the Victorian Court of Appeal, and the Honourable Justice Joanne Cameron upon her appointment to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Obituaries

[15 Aug 2014]

Sadly, Ian Dennis McIvor, passed away on 12 August 2014 after a long illness.

Also, Dr John McLaren Emmerson QC passed away, yesterday, 14 August 2014.

My condolences, on behalf of the Victorian Bar to the family and friends of Ian and John.

Congratulations - Jane Dixon QC

[15 Aug 2014]

Congratulations to Jane Dixon QC for winning the Senior Barrister Award at the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards on 8 August

Peter Greste Legal Industry Benefit Concert

[15 Aug 2014]

I encourage members to attend the Legal Industry Benefit Concert, an initiative of Justice Lasry, being held on Thursday 21 August 2014 in support of journalists detained in Egypt. The concert will feature the Lex Pistols and other Australian performers including Ella Hooper, Mark Seymour, Ross Wilson, Frente, Vika and Linda Bull and the Rockwiz Orkestra.Funds raised will support the family to secure Peter Greste’s freedom.

The event, produced by BottledSnail Productions Inc, is supported by the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar Council, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, and Australians Detained Abroad partnering the initiative. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria has indicated support. For more information about the event or to book tickets here.

Pro Bono Award Nominations

[15 Aug 2014]

A reminder that nominations are now open for the 2014 Pro Bono Awards. The Awards are a great way to recognise the outstanding pro bono contributions and achievements of Victorian barristers. I encourage members to nominate their colleagues in one or more of the six Award categories. The nomination form is available here.

Pro Bono Award Nominations

[8 Aug 2014]

Nominations are now open for the 2014 Pro Bono Awards. The Awards are a great way to recognise the outstanding pro bono contributions and achievements of Victorian barristers. I encourage members to nominate their colleagues in one or more of the six Award categories. The nomination form is available here.

Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner

[8 Aug 2014]

We had the pleasure of hearing the new Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Kate Jenkins speak to Bar Council recently. Kate made an impressive presentation. We are looking forward to working with her in the future.

CPD by the Right Honourable Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury President of the Supreme Court of the UK

[8 Aug 2014]

All members of the legal profession are invited to attend this seminar tonight at 5.15pm in the Neil McPhee Room. We are fortunate to have the Right Honourable Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, speak on the topic of "Nuisance and Costs". The CPD is jointly presented by the Victorian Bar, CommBar, International Law Committee and the Anglo Australian Lawyers Society.

Appellate Advocacy Course

[8 Aug 2014]

There are four places remaining for the Appellate Advocacy Course run by the Australian Bar Association on 12 – 14 September 2014. The three day course will be held at the Federal Court in Sydney with a cost of $2,300. I encourage members to enrol.

The Honourable Justice Kyrou

[1 Aug 2014]

Congratulations to the Honourable Justice Kyrou who was this week appointed a Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Obituary

[1 Aug 2014]

My condolences, on behalf of the Bar, to the family and friends of Adrian Munro, who died last Sunday. Adrian, aged 42, signed the Bar roll in May 2005. He practiced in criminal law and child protection.

CPD seminars

[1 Aug 2014]

I encourage members to attend two CPDs organised by the Health and Wellbeing Committee on emotional intelligence on 31 July at 1pm and recognising and managing anxiety on 4 August at 5.15pm. Further details are available here.

Support Peter Greste Legal Industry Benefit Concert

[25 Jul 2014]

I encourage members to attend the Legal Industry Benefit Concert being held on Thursday 21 August 2014 in support of journalists detained in Egypt.

The concert, an initiative of Justice Lasry, will feature the Lex Pistols and other Australian performers including Ella Hooper, Mark Seymour, Ross Wilson, Frente, Vika and Linda Bull and the Rockwiz Orkestra.Funds raised will support the family to secure Peter Greste’s freedom.

The event, produced by BottledSnail Productions Inc, is supported by the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar Council, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, and Australians Detained Abroad partnering the initiative. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria has indicated support.

The concert will be held at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne from 7.00pm.

For more information about the event or to book tickets here.

Applications for Appointment to Senior Counsel in 2014

[25 Jul 2014]

A reminder that applications close at 5pm on Tuesday 29 July 2014. Those intending to apply for silk should view the information session presented by Stephen Charles QC, which is available here. The Silks Application form, information regarding criteria for appointment and a summary of the process is available on the Supreme Court website.

Congratulations

[25 Jul 2014]

My congratulations to the Honourable Diana Bryant AO on ten years as Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia. Monday, 28 July, is the 10th anniversary of Her Honour’s Welcome. Click to read more.

Victorian Barristers teaching in Papua New Guinea

[18 Jul 2014]

Ian Hill QC led a very successful civil and criminal advocacy training workshop for the Legal Training Institute in Port Moresby, PNG on 7-11 July 2014.

130 trainees attended the week-long course which is a compulsory component of the Practical Legal Training course run by the Legal Training Institute. This is the largest intake ever for the Legal Training Institute and the 14th year that the Victorian Bar has provided advocacy training in PNG.

The teaching team were Ian Hill QC, His Honour Judge Christopher O’Neill, His Honour Magistrate Martin Grinberg, Philip Corbett QC, Mandy Fox, Carolene Gwynn, Ashley Halphen, Paul Higham, Nadia Kaddeche, Christine Melis, Geoffrey Steward, and Wendy Pollock (as administrative assistant).

My thanks to the team for their hard work and contribution towards continuing a fantastic Victorian Bar tradition.

New Melbourne Magistrates' Koori Court

[18 Jul 2014]

Attorney-General Robert Clark this week joined Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen to launch the Melbourne Magistrates’ Koori Court.

The new court is the eighth adult Magistrates’ Koori Court in Victoria, in which Koori elders and respected persons sit with the Magistrate as part of the sentencing process.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Koori Court will sit within the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court building on William Street, and will complement the existing County and Children’s Koori Courts that currently sit within Melbourne’s legal precinct.

Direct access in the Magistrates' Court

[18 Jul 2014]

I remain deeply concerned about the junior Bar and the lack of work. I have recently been approached by a Magistrate who is concerned about the amount of money solicitors are charging for simple criminal pleas. Many people seek long adjournments in order to raise $4000-$5000 to pay a solicitor for a plea when the Magistrate is aware that such a plea would be done by the Bar for $1000 or less. The clerks have been at pains to promote direct access.

Whilst there are good reasons why the Bar doesn't want to create tensions with others in the profession it seems that we should be giving consideration to additional ways to educate the public about direct access in appropriate criminal cases.

Lawyers Weekly Awards

[11 Jul 2014]

Congratulations to Jane Dixon QC, Simon Steward QC, Carmella Ben-Simon and Eugene Wheelahan who have been announced as finalists for the Senior Barrister Award and the Junior Barrister Award at this year's Lawyers Weekly Law Awards. The Awards will be held in Sydney on 8 August 2014.

New Chair for Victoria Law Foundation

[11 Jul 2014]

My congratulations also to the Honourable Hartley Hansen QC who commenced as the new chair of the Victorian Law Foundation on 1 July 2014, replacing the Honourable Philip Cummins AM QC who chaired the foundation from 2009 to 2014.

Obituaries

[11 Jul 2014]

Sadly, Rebecca Thomas died last Saturday, 5 July 2014. Rebecca came to our Bar in September 2013 and was establishing a general commercial and bankruptcy practice.

Also, Jim Wade died last Friday, 4th July 2014. Jim was, for very many years, The Law Book Company representative who supplied law books to members of our Bar. More recently, until his retirement about ten years ago, he continued that service as an independent law book seller on his own account.

My condolences, on behalf of the Victorian Bar to the family and friends of Rebecca and Jim.

Appointment of Gregory Stuart Robinson to the Magistrates' Court of Victoria

[4 Jul 2014]

Congratulations to Gregory Stuart Robinson on his appointment to the Magistrates' Court. His Honour was sworn in privately on Wednesday 2 July, and will be assigned initially to the Magistrates' Court at Melbourne. Click here.

Welcome for Jonathan Beach QC

[4 Jul 2014]

We welcomed Jonathan Beach QC to the Federal Court of Australia on Monday 30 June. It was an excellent occasion and he will make an outstanding judge. His Honour was Senior Vice Chairman of Bar Council and I thank him for all of his work and support.

Independence for Victorian Courts and VCAT

[4 Jul 2014]

Congratulations to the Chief Justice and the Attorney on the launch this week of Court Services Victoria. This is a great step towards ensuring the independence of the judiciary.

Applications now open for Appointment to Senior Counsel in 2014

[4 Jul 2014]

The process for making applications to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for appointment to Silk is now open and applications will close on Tuesday 29 July. We held an information session on 12 June for those intending to apply. If you are intending to apply and missed the session, you can watch it here. The Silks Application form and information regarding criteria for appointment and a summary of the process is available on the Supreme Court website.

Welcome - The Honourable Justice Jonathan Beach

[1 Jul 2014]

Address at the welcome on Monday 30 June 2014 to The Honourable Justice Jonathan Beach upon his appointment to the Federal Court of Australia by Will Alstergren QC, Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council and by Fiona McLeod SC, Vice President of Australian Bar Association and Executive member Law Council of Australia.

Welcome for Jonathan Beach QC

[27 Jun 2014]

On Monday 30 June at 9.30am, Jonathan Beach QC will be welcomed as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Click here for full details.

Applications now open for Appointment to Senior Counsel in 2014

[27 Jun 2014]

The process for making applications to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for appointment to Silk is now open and applications will close on Tuesday 29 July.  

An  information session was held on 12 June for those intending to apply. If you are intending to apply and missed the session, you can watch it here.

The Silks Application form and information regarding criteria for appointment and a summary of the process is available on the Supreme Court website.

Bar Council – new Senior and Junior Vice-Chairmen

[20 Jun 2014]

At last night’s Bar Council meeting, a vote was held for the office of Vice-Chairman of the Bar. That office became vacant upon the appointment of Jonathan Beach QC to the Federal Court.  
 
I am pleased to announce that Paul Anastassiou QC was elected Junior Vice-Chairman. Jim Peters QC moves into the Senior Vice-Chairman position.
 
I congratulate both Jim and Paul and look forward to working with them during the second half of the year.

Silks information session

[20 Jun 2014]

On Thursday 12 June we had the information session for those considering applying for silk. Stephen Charles QC, who is on the Chief Justice’s Committee, spoke and provided important information about the process and what is required of applicants. For those who did not attend this session, and who are intending to apply for silk this year, I strongly encourage them to view the recording of the session.

Applications for silk will open shortly. Please see the Supreme Court website for details.

Bar Dinner speeches and photographs

[20 Jun 2014]

Copies of the Bar Dinner speeches given by Justice Hayne AC and Jeremy Ruskin QC are now available to be viewed on the members’ section of the Bar website along with the photographs of this memorable night.

Child Care

[20 Jun 2014]

We are progressing with developing a child care strategy and will hopefully have a proposal by the end of July. I thank the working group for their help and the WBA and BCL for their input.

Business Development

[20 Jun 2014]

Also we are continuing our efforts to market the Bar. A further In House Counsel CPD is being organised in July and other presentations are being made to the major solicitors firms and the major accounting practices.

Foyer of ODCW

[20 Jun 2014]

You will notice that the foyer of ODCW is being repainted in contemplation for a rehanging of all the Bar's portraits under the guidance of Peter Jopling AM QC. It will be a marvellous exhibition and greatly improve the appearance of the area.

Revised Areas of Practice - Barristers' Profiles

[13 Jun 2014]

As part of the Australian Bar Association’s promotion of barristers at a national level, it will be introducing a national directory of barristers on its website. The search function of the directory features, name, seniority, location and areas of practice. All State and Territory Bar Associations have agreed to move to a standard list of “areas of practice”, based on the current New South Wales model, to ensure consistent search results.

On Monday 16 June 2014, the categories and sub-categories will be automatically updated on each member’s profile to align with the new national standard. An email was sent earlier today to advise members that the change will be occurring.

You are encouraged to go to your profile and check your current areas of practice before the changes occur.  

To accord with the ABA directory, each profile will be limited to seven practice areas, with unlimited choice from the list of sub- categories. You are encouraged to check the changes once they have occurred and take the opportunity to ensure your areas of specialisation are up to date and to review and refresh your profile in the knowledge that it will have a much broader audience.

A list of the new categories and sub-categories can be found here.

Jonathan Beach QC appointed to the Federal Court

[13 Jun 2014]

Yesterday the Governor-General in Council appointed Jonathan Beach QC, Senior Vice-Chairman of the Bar, to the Federal Court.

Justice Beach, as he will be known from 30 June 2014, will be the third eminent member of our Bar to hold that title. Jonathan’s contribution to the Bar, the Bar Council and various Bar Committees has been extraordinary and has involved a large amount of his time, particularly in recent years. It has been a privilege serving with him on the Bar Council.
 
Jonathon’s skill and acumen as one of this Bar’s highly respected and sought after commercial silks is well known. I have no doubt that he will make a significant contribution to the important work of the Federal Court, and its commercial work in particular. I congratulate him on his appointment.
 
I look forward to attending his Honour’s welcome on Monday 30 June and I encourage all members of the Bar to attend.

Child Care

[13 Jun 2014]

We have polled the Bar about Child care. The response showed overwhelming support.
We are looking to provide child care opportunities to ensure our younger members and members with families feel comfortable and supported.
Our members who have young children should be encouraged to continue to practice and be admired for it. If I may be self-indulgent, my wife Kate gave up her legal career to have children when she thought that there was no alternative. She is smart, incredibly competent (and gorgeous). Hopefully those days are over and our young mothers can stay in practice. I have asked a sub committee to investigate child care possibilities near chambers.

To assist in funding this initiative I am keen to create a funding source by renting out the space currently left unused in the baby changing room. This room is hardly ever used and could raise sufficient income to fund places in a child care facility. If there is a need to maintain a baby changing room we should look at relocating the room on a trial basis. In the mean time we should get child care possibilities organised.

Bar Dinner

[6 Jun 2014]

Last Friday night we had a very memorable Bar Dinner. Justice Hayne’s speech was highly engaging and insightful, as we would expect from one of our Bar’s true greats, and reminded us all of the important work we do at the Bar. At same time, his Honour was able to share with us some amusing anecdotes. Jeremy Ruskin QC was also at his best, congratulating some recent judicial appointees and at keeping his audience in a near permanent state of laughter until the very end of his address.  Both speeches will be published on the member’s page on Tuesday.  
 
We were delighted to have His Excellency the Governor and member of our Bar, Alex Chernov attend the Dinner, of which he is a great supporter.  
Another great supporter of the Dinner and an honoured guest was the Chief Justice, the Hon Marilyn Warren AC, in this, her 10th year as Chief Justice.
It was also a pleasure to have as our guests both Attorneys-General (Senator George Brandis QC and the Hon Robert Clark).  
It was also good to see many of the judges of the State and Federal Courts attending, including retired judges.
 
A record attendance of 550 meant that the Myer Mural Hall was at capacity, which made for a wonderful atmosphere. Such an event would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the Committee and the Bar Office. The Bar Choir and Band also gave very entertaining performances.
 
I wish thank in particular, our speakers and all who attended for making this year’s Bar Dinner such a success.    

Information Session on the process for applying for silk

[6 Jun 2014]

On the evening of next Thursday, 12 June, the Honourable Stephen Charles QC, Jane Dixon QC, Jim Peters QC and I will conduct a panel discussion for members of the Bar about the process of applying for, and the appointing of, silk.
 
All interested members are welcome to attend. The seminar is not only open to those members who are considering applying for appointment as silk this year but also for members considering making an application in future years who will find the seminar to be of value.

Appointments to the Council of Legal Education

[6 Jun 2014]

Susan McNicol QC and Elizabeth Boros have recently been appointed to the Council of Legal Education. I congratulate them both on their appointments.

Corporate counsel event

[30 May 2014]

On Tuesday evening we had a very successful seminar and drinks function to which we invited various corporate counsel. Over 70 corporate counsel attended, along with members of the Bar. Justices John Middleton and James Judd gave engaging addresses. We hope to have similar events in the future, which are part of our strategy of encouraging early and direct briefing of our members, and junior members of the Bar.

James Merralls Visiting Fellowship in Law

[30 May 2014]

On Wednesday, the James Merralls Visiting Fellowship in Law was launched at the Supreme Court Library. The Fellowship was launched by the Honourable Michael McHugh AC QC. The Fellowship, which has been established by the Melbourne University Law School, honours the considerable contribution made by James Merralls AM QC to the Australian legal profession.

Much has already been raised to support the Fellowship but there is still a need to raise approximately $100,000. I encourage all members of the Bar to support this initiative by making a tax deductible donation to the Fellowship. A donation form with further details about the Fellowship is available here.

Bar representation on the Legal Services Board

[30 May 2014]

I congratulate Peter Jopling AM QC on his recent re-election to the Legal Services Board, in the advocate member position. I have no doubt that Peter will continue to be a strong representative of the Bar and its advocates, on this important regulatory body.

Sydney Peace Prize

[30 May 2014]

Julian Burnside AO QC has been selected to receive the 2014 Sydney Peace Prize. The prize will be awarded at the 2014 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, to be given by Julian Burnside at Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday, 5 November. I congratulate Julian on this prestigious award

Bar Dinner

[23 May 2014]

We have been able to negotiate a few more places at the Bar dinner so if you would like to attend send your RSVP to Courtney Bow ASAP. We have a record number going this year. Our guest speakers are the Hon. Justice Hayne and Jeremy Ruskin QC.

Bar Choir

[23 May 2014]

The Victorian Bar Community Choir is looking for new members. If you enjoy singing, it is a great way to share your talents with the world and to connect with other members at the Bar. The choir has performed at a number of events, including the County Court’s Open Day during Law Week. They will be also singing at next week’s Bar Dinner. Please let Courtney Bow know if you are interested in joining.

The choir is looking for an upright piano for singing practice. If anyone has a piano they are interested in donating or loaning please contact me or Laura Colla.

Health and Wellbeing Committee

[23 May 2014]

I congratulate the Health and Wellbeing Committee on all their recent activities; they play an important role in keeping members of the Bar connected, active, happy and healthy. If any members are in need of support they should contact the Personal Helpline.

Childcare in Melbourne CBD - survey

[23 May 2014]

As I mentioned last week, the Bar is conducting a survey in relation to childcare. It will close at 12 noon on Monday 26 May, so if you haven’t already responded, please do so over the weekend or early Monday morning.

The Hon Dr Peter Buchanan QC

[23 May 2014]

Sadly, we lost a true hero of our Bar this week. The Hon Dr Peter Buchanan QC was a true leader and the longest serving Judge of Appeal to date. Dr Buchanan’s Funeral Service will be at The Scots’ Church, at the corner of Collins & Russell Streets, Melbourne on Monday 26 May 2014 at 4:30 pm.

Corporate Counsel Seminar and Drinks

[23 May 2014]

We have our Corporate Counsel evening on Tuesday 27 May 2014. If you haven't booked please contact Courtney Bow to see if you can be accommodated.

2014 Melbourne Law School Awards

[23 May 2014]

Jim Peters QC attended the Melbourne Law School Awards Ceremony to present the Justice Kenneth Hayne Scholarship award as part of the University of Melbourne graduation ceremony. It remains a marvellous event and a fitting recognition of an outstanding judge and treasured member of our Bar. Thanks to Jim for representing our Bar.

Senior Counsel

[23 May 2014]

We will be holding an information night in June for silk applicants. The purpose of the event is to ensure that everyone is aware of the criteria and process so as to be fully informed about making the decision whether to apply and what is required. Members found the session very useful last year. The applications are likely to open late June and close late July. The exact dates will be confirmed.

The Chief Justice makes the appointments after an enormous amount of independent consideration and consultation.

Our system of appointment of Senior Counsel is the most respected in Australia and we thank the Chief Justice for all the work she undertakes each year to perform this task and her ongoing leadership of our profession in Victoria.

Advanced Cross Examination Workshop

[23 May 2014]

On Saturday the Bar ran an advanced cross examination workshop at the Associate Justices Courts. This workshop was very well received and gave participants the chance to expand their skills and take on some new techniques in a supportive, low risk way.

The workshop was ably assisted by our newest staff member, May Lim. May has just joined our education team and will be helping to deliver the CPD program, the prospectus and other development projects.

The next workshop we are running is the jury workshop in August.  This workshop offers barristers a unique chance to hear from jurors and is always very popular. Details are contained in the CPD Prospectus.

Legal Aid cuts; ABA

[16 May 2014]

I am deeply concerned about recent cuts to Commonwealth legal aid funding in Tuesday’s Budget. I agree with the recent comments of Mark Livesey QC, the President of the Australian Bar Association, that the cuts will further restrict access to legal representation.

See also the Law Council’s response to the Aid cuts.

The Bar Council will be meeting with Mr Livesey in the near future and legal aid cuts will be one of the topics we will discuss. We are grateful that Mr Livesey has agreed to meet with us, and look forward to discussing with him the relationship between the Victorian Bar and ABA.

Successful CPD Session

[16 May 2014]

The Victorian Bar hosted a CPD given by Chief Justice Allsop last night. The session was very well attended and his Honour gave an excellent speech about the history of the Federal Court, its structure and his vision for the Court's future. I thank the Chief Justice for attending.

Business Development

[16 May 2014]

As part of the Bar's efforts to promote its members we are hosting a Corporate Counsel function on Tuesday 27 May 2014 at 5pm. We have had over 200 register for this event and there are still a small number of places available. It will provide members with a great opportunity to network with legal practitioners in corporate roles.

I will be attending further regional meetings in the coming weeks. Josh Wilson QC addressed the Ballarat and District Law Association on my behalf last week and did an excellent job. Hopefully these activities will lead to a great number of briefs being received for the junior Bar.

Childcare in Melbourne CBD

[16 May 2014]

The Victorian Bar is giving consideration to an opportunity to secure childcare places with a CBD provider reasonably proximate to the Bar’s premises. Interested members are invited to participate in this short survey for the purpose of determining what form such an arrangement might take.

I encourage all members of the Bar who use or wish to use childcare to complete the survey. It will not take long, and it will help to inform us of our members’ views and preferences in relation to this possible project.

Law Week

[16 May 2014]

Members of the Victorian Bar have taken an active part in Law Week this year. On Tuesday, members of the Bar joined the Walk for Justice which focussed attention on the work of Justice Connect's Homeless Law program. People interested in joining the Bar were welcomed to a Step Up to the Bar information session on Wednesday 14 May and our annual Mock Trial, which we hold in conjunction with the LIV, was held in the Supreme Court on Thursday 15th. Tomorrow (Saturday) our Victorian Bar Community Bar will perform a 150th anniversary tribute to Banjo Patterson during the County Court’s Open Day concert at 1 pm in the Waldron Hall and members of our Bar (organised by the Student Engagement Committee) will participate in the Mock Trial at 2 pm. Read more here. Law Week is designed to take Victorian citizens behind the scenes of the legal system and spark an interest in the law and we are proud to be involved as sponsors and to have our members partake in the various events.

Royal Commissions

[16 May 2014]

With many high profile Royal Commissions and inquiries going on at the moment, members may be interested to know that, at least in the case of one of them, the Trade Union Royal Commission, proceedings can be viewed online by way of a live stream.

Congratulations

[16 May 2014]

I see that on 29 April 2014, Albert Monichino QC was elected President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Australia) Ltd. On behalf of the Bar, I congratulate Albert on this significant appointment.

Congratulations to Jennifer Batrouney QC who was named Mentor of the Year at the 2014 Law Institute of Victoria Awards and to Richard Wilson who received a Certificate of Service. The awards celebrate ‘outstanding law firms and individuals who truly advance the legal profession, contribute to community or demonstrate excellence in legal practice in Victoria’. Winners were announced at the Presentation Ceremony and Lunch today (Friday 16 May).

Bar CPD Prospectus

[9 May 2014]

As I reported last week, the Bar’s CPD Prospectus has been released and is available on the website. While the Bar’s CPD program is constantly evolving with new CPD sessions planned every week, the prospectus outlines major seminars, workshops, field visits and accreditation programs as well as resources for personal CPD accredited by the Bar. The prospectus will allow members to plan their CPD year more strategically. 

Corporate Counsel Function

[9 May 2014]

The Victorian Bar is making a concerted effort to establish closer relationships with Corporate Counsel and we are hosting an evening drinks function for Corporate Counsel and members of our Bar in the Essoign on May 27. The function has been well received by Corporate Counsel and members alike and was sold out by mid-morning today. Such a positive response is really encouraging about the potential for further development of relationships with in-house lawyers. For those waitlisted we will certainly be holding further such functions in the near future.

Justice Curtain's farewell

[9 May 2014]

On Wednesday I appeared on behalf of the Bar at the farewell for Justice Elizabeth Curtain at the Supreme Court. Justice Curtain has served with distinction on that Court since 2006 sitting in the Criminal Division, and before that on the County Court for 13 years. Before being appointed to the bench, her Honour was a crown prosecutor and a member of counsel. She has been a member of our Bar since 1978. I again wish to thank her Honour for her service on the Supreme and County Courts, and wish her Honour a very happy and fulfilling retirement.

Winter wellness week is next week

[9 May 2014]

I encourage members to consider the opportunity to have a free flu shot next week. Shots will be provided in the Parents Room in the foyer of Owen Dixon Chambers West at particular times (bookings are required). To book a time, click here.

2015 ABA Conference

[9 May 2014]

The 2015 Australian Bar Association Conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA from 7 - 10 July 2015.

The theme of the conference will centre on the means by which the Australian Bar can survive and prosper in the twenty-first century.
The conference programme will include sessions at the Harvard Law School, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts and the JFK Presidential Library.

To register your interest please email: abaconference@nswbar.asn.au 

New readers sign the roll

[2 May 2014]

Last night, along with other members of the Bar Council, I welcomed the thirty nine newest members of our Bar at a ceremony in the Supreme Court library. The March 2014 readers are the sixth group to have undertaken the Bar examination and the shorter readers' course. They are a talented group and come from diverse backgrounds. They all successfully completed the course and signed the Bar Roll. They now commence reading in chambers with their mentors, many of whom attended last night's celebratory dinner at the Essoign Club with their readers.

I would like to say thank you to all those involved in the readers' course for once again conducting a successful course. In particular, my thanks go to David O'Callaghan QC and his committee for their outstanding work. Also, I express my deep appreciation to Rachel Chrapot and the Bar Office staff.

Bar dinner

[2 May 2014]

I am pleased that those currently on the waiting list for the Bar Dinner will be able to attend the sold-out event. Arrangements have been made (after negotiation with the organisers) for some space to be made available extra tables. We will continue to run a waiting list as from experience there will be people who have RSVP’d who for one reason or another will not be able to attend on the night.

We are all looking forward to this night.  I am pleased to confirm that the Governor, His Excellency Alex Chernov AC QC has accepted the Bar's invitation to attend the Dinner. His Excellency is a great supporter of the Bar, of which he remains a valued member. Also attending is Her Honour, the Chief Justice and both the State and Commonwealth Attorneys-General.

Visits from the Attorneys-General

[2 May 2014]

On Monday evening the Victorian Attorney-General, The Hon Robert Clark, was our guest at a discussion about proposed baseline sentencing reforms. The Bar welcomes the Attorney's consultation with us in this regard and his preparedness to answer questions from the members of the criminal Bar who attended. The discussion was very constructive and sometimes robust, and many views were aired. I am grateful to the President of the Criminal Bar Association, Peter Morrissey SC and Paul Holdenson QC for their contributions and to the Attorney-General for his attendance and participation in these important discussions.
On Wednesday night I was also pleased to welcome the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, who was visiting at our invitation. Members of the Bar Council and I were able to discuss various matters with the Attorney and we are very grateful that he accepted our invitation to meet with us.

Last week and this week I continued to meet with the regional and suburban law associations to promote the Bar. In the next month I intend to attend meetings of the Mornington Peninsula, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland Lawyers Associations. Hopefully this will lead to more work for our members.

Bar CPD Prospectus

[2 May 2014]

The Bar’s current CPD Prospectus is due for release next week. While the Bar’s CPD program is constantly evolving with new CPD sessions planned every week, the prospectus outlines major seminars, workshops, field visits and accreditation programs as well as resources for personal CPD accredited by the Bar. The prospectus will allow members to plan their CPD year more strategically.  Watch this space for a link to the new prospectus in the next edition.

Corporate Counsel function

[2 May 2014]

The Bar in conjunction with CommBar will also be hosting a Corporate Counsel function on 27 May 2014 at the Essoign. This is open to members to bring Corporate Counsel who can attend and hear Justice Middleton of the Federal Court and Justice Judd of the Supreme Court talk about effective management of commercial litigation. This will include the benefits of briefing barristers early in litigation.

Regional and suburban lawyers associations meetings

[24 Apr 2014]

I have been attending the regional and suburban lawyers associations meetings to promote the Bar. I attended a Northern Suburbs Lawyers Association event last night. Peter Little provided an excellent speech to the gathering and Green's List promoted the event. Next week the Southern Solicitors Group is meeting and Anthony Schlicht is speaking. John Dever and I will be attending. I am also attending the Ballarat and District Law Association and the Gippsland Law Association meetings in the next month in an effort to promote the Bar and to get our members briefed earlier in litigation. We are holding a CPD conference for the Mildura solicitors on 27 June 2014.

I encourage all those interested in speaking at these events to contact Sally Bodman of the Bar Office so we can provide your names to the Associations when they are looking for speakers.

Bar Dinner

[24 Apr 2014]

The Bar dinner is now sold out but I have asked Denise Bennett to see what can be done to accommodate more guests. In the meantime, please send in your rsvp and we will add you to the waiting list. The Bar Choir will be singing for the first time which will be a marvellous addition to the night.

Baseline Sentencing

[24 Apr 2014]

I also encourage all those interested in the proposed Baseline Sentencing legislation to attend the CPD Seminar on Monday 28 April 2014, with the Attorney-General at 5pm. The panel will include Jane Dixon QC, Paul Holdenson QC, Patrick Tehan QC and Peter Morrissey SC. The session will allow the Bar to discuss a number of concerns it, the CBA and the Courts have about the proposed legislation with the Attorney-General. We are grateful that the Attorney-General has agreed to attend. 

Practising Certificate Renewal

[24 Apr 2014]

And don't forget to pay your Practising Certificate Renewal by 30 April. You can lodge online here.

Queen’s Counsel appointments

[17 Apr 2014]

This week 156 Senior Counsel in Victoria were appointed Queen's Counsel. The Bar is extremely grateful to the Attorney-General for his assistance. I congratulate all those who were appointed and all those who exercised their choice not to do so.

The Bar also remains extremely grateful to Her Honour the Chief Justice for her on going support of the Victorian Bar and the enormous amount of work she engages in when appointing Senior Counsel each year.

Baseline Sentencing

[17 Apr 2014]

After considering the draft Bill dealing with baseline sentencing, the Bar has expressed some concern about the operation of the Bill, in particular on the courts and their independence. See the Bar’s recent press release here.

The new laws would require Victorian courts to impose higher jail time on offenders based on ‘baselines’, across the range of sentences available to judges in criminal matters. The Bar is concerned that the changes will have knock-on effects such as the need for further resources for the courts and the corrections system, in that offenders are less likely to plead guilty to charges.

As I noted in last week’s column, the Bar welcomes the opportunity to consult with the Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark, about the detail of the Bill and its impacts on the criminal justice process on the evening of 28 April.

Essoign Club

[17 Apr 2014]

On a lighter note, I would like to remind members of the Bar about the many benefits of using the Essoign Club. No other State or Territory Bar has anything like the Essoign. In the less formal café area it offers breakfast, very good coffee and lighter options for lunch such as sandwiches and salads. Lunch in the more formal area involves more formal dining in a modern setting. In the evening, drinks are available at the bar and in the café area, and there is a pool table for use after a long day in court.

I encourage all members of the Bar (who are all financial members of the Essoign, unless they have opted out of membership – which I strongly discourage) to use this excellent facility which is central to the social life of our Bar. 

Bar Dinner

[17 Apr 2014]

Numbers for the Bar Dinner have shot up in the last week to about 430 - an enormous response. This means that the event will almost certainly sell out before the rsvp date of 23 May. I recommend that all those who have not yet booked for the Bar Dinner do so, so you don't miss out.

Easter break

[17 Apr 2014]

I wish all members of the Bar a relaxing and enjoyable Easter break. 

Baseline Sentencing

[11 Apr 2014]

The Bar Council and I are currently working closely with the Criminal Bar Association in relation to the Bar’s response to the Government’s proposed legislative changes which will provide for “baseline sentences”. The changes will require courts sentencing offenders to have regard to legislatively prescribed median sentences for certain serious criminal offences.
 
The Attorney-General has accepted the Bar’s invitation to speak at a CPD seminar to be conducted on the evening of Monday 28 April 2014. Paul Holdenson QC, Peter Morrissey SC and I will also speak on the night and members of the Bar who attend will have an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed changes with the speakers.

Best Lawyers in Australia 2014

[11 Apr 2014]

We congratulate those members of the Bar who have been recognised in the 2014 edition of the Best Lawyers in Australia, a peer-reviewed evaluation by practice area and geographic region, released today. Over 60 members have been included in this year’s list, including nine members named as Lawyer of the Year in their practice area and region. Click here for the AFR’s interactive list.

Bar Dinner

[11 Apr 2014]

Numbers for the Bar dinner are already in excess of 300. I encourage everyone to keep sending in your replies.

In Brief

[11 Apr 2014]

Note: Next week’s “In Brief” will go out on Thursday due to the Good Friday public holiday.

Marketing strategy

[4 Apr 2014]

The Bar has engaged Brand Strategy firm The Contenders to assist the Bar in defining a Brand Strategy and developing imagery, messaging and collateral to support it. The Bar recognises that the legal landscape has undergone changes over the last few decades and there is a need for us to redefine ourselves, our positioning and our offering in the context of the modern legal market. A first step in that process is to engage stakeholders to participate in a workshop to define the Bar’s identity and unique characteristics in a framework relative to market challenges and opportunities. The workshops will commence next week with representatives from all areas of the Bar.

Justice Dodds-Streeton's last sitting

[4 Apr 2014]

The Honourable Justice Julie Anne Dodds-Streeton retired from the Federal Court of Australia as of midnight last Tuesday 1 April 2014. I attended Her Honour’s last sitting, as did Philip Crutchfield SC, President of the Commercial Bar Association. A number of Judges, members of the Commercial Bar Association, and former instructing solicitors also came. Her Honour's contribution to the law as an academic, barrister and judge was recognised in a notice to members on Wednesday.

Bar Dinner

[4 Apr 2014]

Responses to the invitation to the Bar Dinner, which will be held on the evening of Friday 30 May, have been very promising. I encourage all those who plan to attend the Dinner to have their responses in as soon as possible. I note that the deadline to respond is 23 May. This year's speakers are Justice Hayne and Jeremy Ruskin SC. The invitation to the Dinner can be found here.

Tax Office's 'Professional to Professional'

[4 Apr 2014]

At a recent Tax Office 'Legal Practitioners Round Table' consultative forum, we were asked to let our members know that they can use the Tax Office's 'Professional to Professional' or 'P2P' service to be put in touch with the right person in the Tax Office to assist with a client (or personal) matter. Practitioners can submit enquiries via an online form (search ‘26243’ on ato.gov.au) or by emailing P2Penquiries@ato.gov.au.

The P2P officers assess the enquiry and identify the relevant subject matter expert in the ATO. For more urgent matters, members can contact Mark Middleton on 03 9215 3870, 0411 276 391 or mark.middleton@ato.gov.au.

If you have any further queries about how this works, contact John Morgan (Extn 8920) as he represents the Bar on the Round Table forum.

Defibrillators

[28 Mar 2014]

A recent incident in Owen Dixon chambers required the urgent use of the building's defibrillator. I am pleased to confirm that the person treated with the defibrillator is now in recovery, thanks to the actions of its skilled operator.

The Health and Well Being Committee is now looking at ensuring that all chambers have these life saving devices and is encouraging members to train in operating them. See the article under Bar Notices below to see how to apply.

Child care

[28 Mar 2014]

The Bar Council and a specially established working group are investigating establishing an arrangement with local child care businesses with a view to offering subsidised child care to members of the Bar.

This initiative is similar to one which the NSW Bar has implemented. I will keep members updated in this regard.

International Arbitration

[28 Mar 2014]

The 2014 APRAG conference has taken place in at the Sofitel in Melbourne over the last few days. The welcoming drinks function was held on Wednesday night at the Supreme Court and groups of delegates were taken over to view the new Melbourne Commercial Arbitration and Mediation (MCAM) Centre in the William Cooper Justice Centre. The conference has been well attended by international leaders in Arbitration and has assisted in establishing Melbourne as a player in the field.

There is a proposal currently being considered for the MCAM Centre to enter in a Memoranda of Understanding with other similar centres worldwide. I will continue to update members about this.

Justice Dodds-Streeton

[28 Mar 2014]

Members may be aware that Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton will be retiring from the Federal Court with effect on 1 April 2014. Her Honour went to the Federal Court from the Supreme Court (the Court of Appeal and, earlier, the Trial Division), where her Honour served with distinction, having been appointed in 2002.  Her Honour will not be having a farewell from the Federal Court, so I take this opportunity publicly to thank her Honour for her important service as a judge and wish her well on behalf of the Bar. 

Opening of Melbourne Commercial Arbitration and Mediation Centre

[21 Mar 2014]

On Monday Jonathan Beach QC attended the official opening of the Melbourne Commercial Arbitration and Mediation (MCAM) Centre as the Bar’s representative. The MCAM Centre is based at the William Cooper Justice Centre on the corner of William and Lonsdale Streets. The Centre and the accompanying MCAM Hub website are joint initiatives of the Victorian Bar, Court Services Victoria and the Law Institute of Victoria.

The opening of the Centre was attended by the Attorney-General and the Chief Justice. The Centre would not have been possible without their support and I thank them both for their important involvement in the development of the MCAM project. Without the collaborative effort of the Victorian Government, the Courts and the profession, along with a shared vision of what could be achieved, the MCAM Centre would not have been possible. I also wish to thank my predecessors, Mark Moshinsky SC, the Honourable Justice Melanie Sloss and Fiona McLeod SC, who during their years as Chairmen made the project succeed.

The MCAM Centre will set the standard for commercial arbitration in Victoria and across the region, giving parties access to purpose built facilities and high quality arbitrators and Mediators. As I said in Monday’s press release, Australia’s arbitration framework provides a stable and effective environment for internationally experienced arbitrators to resolve local, cross-border and international disputes.  The speed and neutrality of the Australian political and legal systems makes Melbourne a competitive option for clients in a desirable location, and the MCAM Centre will further boost this State’s competitive position.

Appointment of Mary-Anne MacCallum to the Magistrates’ Court

[21 Mar 2014]

This week the Governor in Council appointed Mary-Anne MacCallum to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.  Her Honour is a former practising member of the Victorian Bar, having signed the Bar Roll on 10 March 1998 (as Mary-Anne Hughson). I congratulate her Honour on her appointment and wish her well as she serves on the Court.

2014 Victorian Bar Dinner

[21 Mar 2014]

The 2014 Bar Dinner will be held on Friday, 30 May 2014 at the Myer Mural Hall. This will be the third year of holding the dinner at this impressive venue. This year’s guest speakers will be the Honourable Justice Kenneth Hayne AC of the High Court and Jeremy Ruskin QC. All members of the Bar and Judiciary are invited. I encourage everyone to attend what promises to be a very enjoyable night. It will be a great opportunity to catch up socially with other barristers and judges, and it would be wonderful to have a good turnout.

A copy of the Bar Dinner invitation can be downloaded here. For online registration please click here.

Criminal Trials Consultation

[14 Mar 2014]

The Victorian Bar, in collaboration with the Criminal Bar Association, has made its submission to the Victoria Legal Aid criminal trials consultation. Whilst acknowledging that there is always room for improvement, and whilst also understanding the difficult task faced by Victoria Legal Aid in managing precious public funds, we have emphasised the need to ensure that any reforms protect the right of accused persons to a fair trial, and recognise that the Bar is the leading provider of specialist advocacy services in Victoria. The great strength of the Bar is that it provides a flexible, high quality pool of expert advocates that can be drawn on when needed, including the highly specialised area of criminal advocacy and legal aid matters.

High quality advocacy in criminal trials is not just a concern for the profession, the Bar, VLA or government. The community rightly expects that any accused will be properly represented and will therefore receive a fair trial. Efficient and expert running of trials by skilled advocates has economic benefit too.

It is important for members practising in the field to note that the Bar has expressed in principle support  for a quality assurance program for members of the Bar undertaking publicly funded indictable criminal trial advocacy, including potentially an "opt in" scheme for training or quality assurance. However, the Bar has opposed measures such as introducing fixed fees or expanding in-house chambers at Victoria Legal Aid. The submission can be found here.

Resignation of Chief Justice Eames

[14 Mar 2014]

The resignation of the Chief Justice of Nauru, the Honourable Geoffrey Eames AM QC, is deeply troubling. As I have said previously, his Honour is a highly respected Judge of the greatest integrity and calibre. He has been a member of the Victorian Bar for nearly 45 years, which includes significant time as a judge in Victoria, the Northern Territory and then Nauru.

He has worked to make the Court system in Nauru equally accessible to all who come before it. The Victorian Bar is deeply concerned that Justice Eames has felt that his only course was to resign from his position.

This is a further troubling development and part of a series of events deeply concerning for the operation of the justice system in Nauru, and for the preservation of the rule of law in our neighbouring Commonwealth country.

Barry Hepworth

[14 Mar 2014]

Sadly Barry Hepworth passed away on 8 March 2014. He had a generalist practice and the bar, including appearing in many criminal trials, and he mentored two readers, Vladimir Stuban and Peter Moloney. He will be greatly missed.

Counselling Service

[14 Mar 2014]

Please note that all members have access to a counselling service. That service extends not only to counselling for the many and varied stresses of our work life, but also to challenges we may face in our private lives.

There is a personal helpline button on the external homepage, and also on the Member homepage (the button is constantly visible when clicking through the website). It is a wonderful service and I'd encourage members to use it.

Business Development at the Bar

[14 Mar 2014]

I am aware that the Bar needs to promote its members and ensure where possible that Barristers are briefed early in litigation. To assist the Bar Council is looking at ways to promote its members including running CPD conferences in regional and country Victoria, establishing a data base of barristers prepared to provide in house CPD to firms, corporate counsel and government solicitors.

We are currently establishing a data base of solicitors to market to. We are also organising a large CPD conference in October with the LIV for the first time with the assistance of the Courts.

Welcome - His Honour Judge Dyer

[12 Mar 2014]

Address at the welcome on Wednesday 20 November 2013 to His Honour Judge Robert Dyer upon his appointment to the County Court of Victoria by William Alstergren SC, Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council.

VLA Criminal Trials Consultation

[7 Mar 2014]

The Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association response to the VLA consultation regarding criminal trials will be submitted today. I wish to congratulate all involved in preparing such a strong submission. I'd urge all members practising in crime to read the submission. After it is submitted, it can be read here.

Clarinda Molyneux QC

[7 Mar 2014]

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Clarinda Molyneux QC. Clarinda made a significant contribution to the law of Victoria, particularly in the fields of family, property and wills, trusts and estates law. She was part of the Bar CLE Subcommittee that, in 2003-4, established the CLE program. The strength of that program, and its value to members and the wider community, is a legacy to Clarinda's efforts. Our thoughts are with her husband, Hugh Fraser.

Child care

[7 Mar 2014]

The Bar Council has reconstituted the Child Care Working Group to consider how child care facilities can be provided to members. This may involve reserving places for members at a child care centre in or around the CBD, which is the approach recently taken by the Bar in New South Wales. If any members wish to note their interest in such a service, and/or have any suggestions, please contact Michelle Sharpe, Michael Stanton, Emma Peppler, or Karen Argiropoulos.

Fiona McLeod SC - Victorian Honour Roll

[7 Mar 2014]

I want to congratulate Fiona McLeod SC, Past Chair of the Bar Council, on her induction on to the Victorian Honour Roll for Women on International Women’s Day 2014. The honour recognises Fiona's leadership, advocacy and long standing contribution to the law, including her role as a pioneer in the field of anti-slavery and human trafficking law, and her provision of pro bono services to victims and pursuing the first compensation claims on behalf of victims of sex trafficking in New South Wales and Victoria.

Welcome - Her Honour Judge Claire Quin

[7 Mar 2014]

Address by James Peters SC, Vice-Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council, on Friday 7 March 2014 at the welcome to Judge Claire Quin upon her appointment to the County Court of Victoria.

Farewell - The Honourable Justice Paul Coghlan

[5 Mar 2014]

Address on the occasion of retirement of The Honourable Justice Paul Coghlan from the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria by William Alstergren SC, Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council, Thursday 6 February 2014 in the Banco Court.

Welcome to The Honourable Justice Jack Rush RFD

[5 Mar 2014]

Address at the welcome on Thursday 5 December 2013 to The Honourable Justice Jack Rush RFD upon his appointment to the Supreme Court of Victoria by William Alstergren SC, Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council.

Letters Patent

[28 Feb 2014]

Over 85% of the Bar’s SCs who are eligible have applied for letters patent to change their title to QC. If any eligible people still wish to apply, please forward your application and we will see if the Attorney will receive them in the next week.  Otherwise, the next opportunity will fall in November when the new Silks are announced.

I remind everyone that the decision to change to QC or to retain the SC title is a personal one and that the Bar respects every individual’s choice.

Appointment of Her Honour Judge Quin

[28 Feb 2014]

I would like to congratulate Claire Quin on her appointment as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria. Her Honour has made a significant contribution to justice in Victoria, particularly in her role as a Crown Prosecutor at the Office of Public Prosecutions. I have no doubt that her Honour will be an excellent judge. The legal profession will extend a welcome to Her Honour in the Ceremonial Courtroom, Court 3-3 of the County Court of Victoria, 250 William Street Melbourne on Friday 7 March 2014 at 9:15am.

Victoria Legal Aid Criminal Trials Consultation

[28 Feb 2014]

On 27 February 2014 there was a meeting between members of the Criminal Bar Association and Judges of the County Court of Victoria, including His Honour Chief Judge Rozenes. The meeting was very well attended, and the discussion was very positive in responding to the challenges facing the criminal bar. I would urge all members who practice in the field to contribute to the Criminal Bar Association response to the VLA consultation, which is due on or before 7 March 2014. The VLA consultation paper can be found here.

Review of the Victorian Bar Entrance Exam

[28 Feb 2014]

The Bar Council has resolved to form an independent committee to review the Victorian Bar entrance exam, chaired by Michael Wheelahan SC. The committee will review all aspects of the exam, and consider how it may be improved. This is an important step in ensuring that the entrance exam is achieving its objectives and it ensuring that properly qualified people are accepted into the readers' course.

Developments in Asian-Pacific Commercial Arbitration

[28 Feb 2014]

Martin Scott SC has recently notified members that on 25 March 2014 at 5.15pm, the Victorian Bar is hosting three very distinguished international Arbitrators to discuss current developments in Asian-Pacific international commercial arbitration.
 
Professor Datuk Sundra Rajoo will speak on the topic ‘Arbitration in Transition in the 120th Meridian: The Pacific Hour’ and will be joined by Professor Michael Pryles and Professor Anselmo Reyes for a short panel discussion afterwards. Following the seminar, drinks will be held in the Essoign Club.
 
Over 200 specialist arbitration solicitors, in-house Counsel, and commercial judges from the Federal, Supreme and County Courts have been specially invited as guests to this event.

New Arbitration and Mediation Centre

[28 Feb 2014]

A new venue for ADR will open in Melbourne on 17 March 2014.  A joint initiative of the Bar, the LIV and the Department of Justice, the Melbourne Commercial Arbitration and Mediation Centre will be conveniently located in Melbourne’s legal precinct in the William Cooper Justice Centre.  A new website focussing on the promotion of International Arbitration in Melbourne, and providing a central resource and booking service for a number of Melbourne’s ADR venues, will launch together with the Centre.

Child care

[28 Feb 2014]

There is a lot of interest in child care particularly from the junior Bar. The Bar Council will re-consider this issue and what can be done to assist including seeing what facilities are currently available in the Courts precinct.

Disability and Life Insurance

[21 Feb 2014]

I remind members of the importance of holding income, disability and life insurance. While we all hope that tragedy does not touch our lives, we all must consider how our friends and families would be impacted by such events. The Victorian Bar is presently investigating options to ensure that members are protected, but in the interim I would encourage all members to take insurance.

Submissions invited on VLA paper on the delivery of Criminal Trials

[21 Feb 2014]

Victoria Legal Aid has released its consultation and options paper entitled "Delivering High Quality Criminal Trials". Submissions close on 7 March 2014. The Criminal Bar Association, together with the Bar Council, is preparing a response to this very important consultation. It is likely to have a significant impact on those members engaged in indictable criminal practice. On Thursday 27 February 2014, at 5pm, there is a "closed-door" forum for Criminal Bar Association members only at the County Court of Victoria, Room 3-3. The Honourable Chief Judge Michael Rozenes will address the forum. All Criminal Bar Association members are urged to attend.

Letters Patent

[21 Feb 2014]

I would like to thank Denise Bennett for all her hard work in managing the applications by Senior Counsel for letters patent for the title of Queen's Counsel. There were 120 applications lodged over three days, with more applications to be lodged next week. The reform promotes the freedom of all Senior Counsel to choose between the titles, and I am sure that personal decision will be respected by members.

2014 Bar Dinner

[21 Feb 2014]

The 2014 Annual Bar Dinner will be held on Friday 30 May 2014  at the Myer Mural Hall and I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Justice Kenneth Hayne and Mr Jeremy Ruskin QC will be speaking. The Bar Choir will be performing with Mr Mark Holden, and it should be a wonderful event.

Business Development

[21 Feb 2014]

I am putting a particular focus on developing relationships with solicitors in regional areas and to this end have organised a dinner next week with the heads of fifteen regional and suburban  Law Associations throughout Victoria.  The dinner will be attended by the Attorney General, the Hon Robert Clark MP as well as the Honourable Justice Jack Rush RFD, and the Bar’s clerks.  We are looking to develop CPD events with these groups later in the year.  As mentioned in earlier editions on InBrief, we are also working with the LIV to put together a joint conference in October, furthering bonds between the Bar and the LIV and providing a forum for our barristers to forge personal relationships with solicitors in their Areas of Practice.

LCA Press Release on Manus Island Detention Centre

[21 Feb 2014]

I note that the Law Council of Australia has issued a press release on the concerning events at the Manus Island Detention Centre. As observed by the Law Council of Australia, those seeking asylum should be treated with dignity and fairness, with their health and safety paramount, and there should be independent oversight and scrutiny of the standards of detention. The press release can be found here.

Congratulations Mr Graeme Uren QC and Mr Ian Hayden

[14 Feb 2014]

I would like to congratulate Mr Graeme Uren QC and Mr Ian Hayden on their 50 years of practising at the bar.

It is an extraordinary achievement and both Graeme and Ian have made an enormous contribution to the Victorian justice system and to life at the Bar.

ABA Office Bearers

[14 Feb 2014]

I would also like the congratulate the new executive team of the Australian Bar Association (ABA). Mr Mark Livesey QC has been appointed as the President of the ABA, with our Past Chair Ms Fiona McLeod SC appointed as Vice President.

I would also like to highlight Mr Livesey QC's recent comments regarding the vital role of lawyers in the Australian legal system and the ABA criticism of suggestions in the political realm that lawyers should only represent select people and interests. Barristers and solicitors, including those in criminal practice, have comprehensive ethical responsibilities including a fundamental duty to the Court. They are accountable for their conduct. It should never be suggested that, in discharging their duties, lawyers are "cogs" in the criminal machine. That is to ignore the vital role of legal representation in our system of law, and in protecting the rule of law. That is underpinned by the foundational concept that every accused person is entitled to legal representation, notwithstanding the nature of the allegations. The ABA press release can be found here.

Court Services Victoria Act 201

[14 Feb 2014]

I note that the Court Services Victoria Act 2013 has been given Royal Assent. The Act will establish a new body, Court Services Victoria, which will be free from departmental or political control and will be directly accountable to Parliament. It will enable the Courts and VCAT to manage their own operations and budget. That is a significant achievement and I congratulate the Attorney-General and the Parliament on the important reform.

Victorian silks to get choice of QC or SC

[7 Feb 2014]

On 3 February 2014, after consultation with the Bar Council and the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General announced that Victorian Senior Counsel will be given the option to be appointed as Queen’s Counsel upon application.

By invitation from the Attorney-General all existing SCs are entitled to apply to the Attorney-General for letters patent granting them the office of Queen’s Counsel and the right to use the style and title, “QC”.

Notwithstanding this change, the process to be recognised as a senior advocate at the Victorian Bar remains exactly the same. The Chief Justice will continue to appoint Senior Counsel in Victoria and it is not until someone is appointed as Senior Counsel that they will have the opportunity to apply for Letters Patent as a QC.

The Bar is particularly grateful to the Chief Justice for endorsing and adopting the 2-year piloted model as permanent for the selection of Senior Counsel in and for the State of Victoria in this, her 10th anniversary year as Chief Justice. The Chief Justice remains central to this important model, which has been very successful during the pilot. On behalf of the Bar, I express our gratitude to the Chief Justice for taking on this important duty. The process overseen by the Chief Justice is a fair, robust and independent process for the selection of silks, and it ensures the integrity of the process.  

When the Senior Counsel for 2014 are appointed, they, like existing SCs, will be invited by the Attorney-General to apply for letters patent which also appoint them as QC, an application they may or may not choose to make.

Unlike in Queensland, where the recent changes have entirely replaced the role and title of SC with QC, in Victoria all Senior Counsel will have the option of being known as Senior Counsel or Queen’s Counsel.  This freedom of choice recognises that the title of QC is a well understood brand, particularly in some jurisdictions and areas of practice and the choice will now be up to individuals and made possible by the Attorney General agreeing to the legal process which requires the involvement of the Government of the day.

This invitation by the Attorney-General allows individual members a choice. To date QCs have been entitled to choose to adopt the title, SC, but a barrister appointed an SC did not have that option. It will now be up to individuals to decide which title they prefer.

There has been substantial support from some members of Senior Counsel for this proposal and to date there is a large number of Senior Counsel who have indicated their intention to make an application. The application documents are being finalised and I expect them to be available very shortly. The Bar Office will collect them from applicants and provide them in a batch to the Attorney-General with the information required that the Bar Office will provide from the Bar Roll.

Farewell Justice Coghlan

[7 Feb 2014]

Yesterday I attended the farewell of Justice Paul Coghlan from the Court of Appeal. The farewell was very well attended and many tributes were paid to his Honour’s long and distinguished service to the criminal law in this State, in particular his service as a Judge of Appeal, a Judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court and as Director of Public Prosecutions. Justice Coghlan will be missed. On behalf of the Victorian Bar, I wish his Honour a most enjoyable and well-earned retirement after he finishes sitting as a reserve Judge.

I would also, at the start of this legal year, like to make some general observations about welcomes and farewells and other ceremonial occasions that will occur this year. Each such event is publicised to the whole of the Bar in the weeks preceding it, and, as members are well aware, those who are able to attend are requested to do so (often with a note about the appropriate form of dress). I really encourage all members of counsel who are not otherwise professionally committed to make an effort to attend these events, even if you do not know the person who is being welcomed or being farewelled well or at all.  For the junior Bar in particular, they are great learning experiences, and often entertaining. These ceremonial occasions are, most importantly, a worthy way of paying tribute to our fellow members of the bar who have been appointed to judicial office and showing our support for them in relation to the vital role they play in advancing the rule of law.

CPD Conference

[31 Jan 2014]

The Bar’s 2014 CPD conference will be held later than in previous years (we are currently looking at dates in September or October). This year we are planning a revised format in partnership with the LIV and with involvement from members of the Bench. It will be an exciting opportunity for the Bar to showcase its members and should be an excellent conference.   

Members who haven't reached the required CPD points for this year are reminded to look at the conferences and CPD sessions being held prior to 31 March 2014 available on our website.

A CPD Prospectus will be released shortly with an overview of planned CPD events for  the coming year. The Bar maintains a full CPD calendar for its members including workshops, seminars, accreditation programs, field visits and personal CPD. In addition to the major events planned at the beginning of the year, several CPD events will be added to the calendar as the year progresses. The Bar’s CPD program is comprehensive, extensive, accessible and well-run. In 2013, the Bar held 85 CPD events including 6 workshops, 66 seminars and 13 panels.

Australia Day Honours

[31 Jan 2014]

I congratulate the members of the Bar who were recognised in this year's Australia Day Honours:

  • The Honourable Peter Ross Gray AM
  • Major General the Honourable Justice Richard Ross Tracey AM RFD
  • The Honourable Dr Ross Alan Sundberg AM QC
  • The Honourable Justice Stephen William Kaye AM
  • Mr Peter John Jopling AM QC

All appointments are richly deserved.

Roland Maxwell Lloyd Price and Rex Patkin

[31 Jan 2014]

It is with sadness that we mourn the passing of Roland Maxwell Lloyd Price and Rex Patkin. Both members made significant contributions to the Bar and the Victorian justice system and will be missed.

Productivity Commissions's latest Report on Government Services

[31 Jan 2014]

I note that the Productivity Commissions's latest Report on Government Services demonstrates that Victorian Courts have achieved the highest clearance rate on record. That is a notable achievement, and results in people being able to access the Courts more quickly.

However, I also note that the spending on Victorian prisons has significantly increased, with the prison population increasing by 12% over the last three years, with the recidivism rate also increasing.

Opening of the Legal Year 2014

[31 Jan 2014]

For the benefit of those members returning to work, I repeat the following:

With regard to the opening of the legal year, on 3 February 2014 the following services will be held in Melbourne:

Ecumenical Service at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral
Roman Catholic Red Mass at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
Synagogue Service at The East Melbourne Synagogue
The Community Opening of the Legal Year at the County Court of Victoria

The Victoria Law Foundation’s Legal Laneway Breakfast will be held on Wednesday 5 February 2014 from 8-9am at Hardware Lane, between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Street.

Click here for full details for each service including times, locations, robing instructions and rsvp details.

Farewell for the Honourable Justice Coghlan

[31 Jan 2014]

There will be a farewell to the Honourable Justice Coghlan from the Court of Appeal in the Banco Court at 5pm on Thursday 6 February 2014. Justice Coghlan has made an enormous contribution to the law of Victoria and his Honour will be sorely missed.

Return to the Rule of Law in Nauru

[24 Jan 2014]

The unfolding events in Nauru are deeply troubling. I hope there will very soon be a return to the Rule of Law.

The Honourable Geoffrey Eames AM QC, the Chief Justice of Nauru, is a Judge of the highest calibre and integrity. His Honour served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria for more than 15 years, including more than 5 years on the Court of Appeal. He has been a member of the Victorian Bar for nearly 45 years.

As he has done throughout his professional life, Geoffrey Eames has, as Chief Justice of Nauru, worked to make a difference to improve and build the system and administration of justice.

In a very practical way, Chief Justice Eames has worked to make the Court system in Nauru equally accessible to all who come before it, for example by supporting and encouraging pro bono representation for the defence of those charged with criminal offences arising out of the disturbances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru in September 2012 and July 2013.

The reported denial of a visa to Chief Justice Eames, thus preventing him from conducting hearings in Nauru, is regrettable, to say the least.

My full media release on the issue can be found here.

Opening of the Legal Year

[24 Jan 2014]

With regard to the opening of the legal year, on 3 February 2014 the following services will be held in Melbourne:

Ecumenical Service at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral
Roman Catholic Red Mass at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
Synagogue Service at The East Melbourne Synagogue
The Community Opening of the Legal Year at the County Court of Victoria

The Victoria Law Foundation’s Legal Laneway Breakfast will be held on Wednesday 5 February 2014 from 8-9am at Hardware Lane, between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Street.

Click here for full details for each service including times, locations, robing instructions and rsvp details.

Farewell for the Honourable Justice Coghlan

[24 Jan 2014]

There will be a farewell to the Honourable Justice Coghlan from the Court of Appeal in the Banco Court at 5pm on Thursday 6 February 2014. Justice Coghlan has made an enormous contribution to the law of Victoria and his Honour will be sorely missed.

Happy New Year

[17 Jan 2014]

I wish all members a happy new year and all the best for the challenges in the year ahead.

I note that the Law Council of Australia has called on the Federal Government to guarantee proposed cuts to the legal assistance sector will not affect the provision of front line legal services. The press release can be found on the Bar website here.

It is vital that legal aid and community legal centres are properly funded to ensure access to justice and improve equality of arms before Courts and Tribunals.

Opening of the Legal Year

[17 Jan 2014]

With regard to the opening of the legal year, on 3 February 2014 the following services will be held in Melbourne:

Ecumenical Service at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral
Roman Catholic Red Mass at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
Synagogue Service at The East Melbourne Synagogue
The Community Opening of the Legal Year at the County Court of Victoria

The Victoria Law Foundation’s Legal Laneway Breakfast will be held on Wednesday 5 February 2014 from 8-9am at Hardware Lane, between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Street.

Click here for full details for each service including times, locations, robing instructions and rsvp details.

ABA Annual Dinner

[17 Jan 2014]

The Australian Bar Association will hold its annual dinner to celebrate the new silks. All judges and barristers, not just new silks, are their partners are invited to attend.

Date: Monday 3 February 2014 in the Great Hall of the High Court of Australia, Canberra.
Time: 7.00pm for 7.30 pm
Dress: Formal
Cost: $200 pp (incl GST)
RSVP: today, 17 January 2014

The registration form for the dinner is provided on the Bar website here.

Farewell for the Honourable Justice Coghlan

[17 Jan 2014]

There will be a farewell to the Honourable Justice Coghlan from the Court of Appeal in the Banco Court at 5pm on Thursday 6 February 2014. As I noted in the last edition of News from the Chairman, Justice Coghlan has made an enormous contribution to the law of Victoria and his Honour will be sorely missed.

Opening of the Legal Year 2014; Farewell The Honourable Justice Paul Coghlan

[20 Dec 2013]

I wish all members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thanks to all who have supported and contributed to the work of the Bar Council over the past year, including the wonderful staff at the Bar Office.

A summary of the Opening of the Legal Year events appears below. For full details on all events click here.

MONDAY 13 JANUARY 2014 IN GEELONG
Ecumenical Service at the Salvation Army Citadel, corner of Malop & Swanston Streets, Geelong, at 8:30 am. RSVP by 6 January to bcharleson@coulterroache.com.au

MONDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2014 IN MELBOURNE
Ecumenical Service
St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne at 9:30 am. Please advise attendance to nankivell@vicbar.com.au

Roman Catholic Red Mass
St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, 1 Cathedral Place, East Melbourne at 9 am. Please advise attendance for the Archbishop’s morning tea following the Mass to lil@mcfarlanelegal.com.au

Synagogue Service
The East Melbourne Synagogue (The East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation), 488 Albert Street, East Melbourne at 9:30 am.

Community Observance, ICJ Victoria
Waldron Hall, County Court of Victoria, corner of William and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne, 9 am for 9:30 am, with morning tea at 10:30 am. RSVP by 27 January 2014 to register@liv.asn.au

Robing is required at the Church and Synagogue Services but not at Community Observance
The procession of Judicial Officers and the Profession marshals 15 minutes before each of the church and Synagogue services in both Geelong and Melbourne.

There will not be an Eastern Orthodox Service or a Buddhist Observance in February 2014.

WEDNESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2014 IN MELBOURNE
Legal Laneway Breakfast, Victoria Law Foundation
Hardware Lane between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne at 8 amEarly Bird registration before Tuesday 7 January 2014. RSVP contact@victorialawfoundation.org.au

There will be a farewell to the Honourable Justice Coghlan from the Court of Appeal in the Banco Court at 5pm on Thursday 6 February 2014.  Justice Coghlan has made an enormous contribution to the law of Victoria and his Honour will be sorely missed. As a former Chief Crown Prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions and Judge in the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria he is renowned for his fairness and wisdom notwithstanding the incredibly demanding trials he has prosecuted and presided over.

Lachlan Carter; Notice Obligations Reminder; Jury Direction Amendment Bill 2013; Bar Christmas Party

[13 Dec 2013]

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Lachlan Carter. Lachie was one of the leading appellate criminal law juniors, appearing regularly in the High Court and Court of Appeal, an approachable and kind mentor, and a passionate advocate for the underdog. He will be fondly remembered for his commitment to social justice and his generosity of spirit. Our thoughts are with his family.

I have been asked to remind members of the notice obligations pursuant to the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic):

1. Section 78B of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) provides that it is the duty of a court, where a pending cause involves a matter arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation, not to proceed in the cause until the court is satisfied that notice of the matter has been given to the Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories (except in the case of urgent interlocutory relief where necessary in the interests of justice).

2. Section 35 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) requires a party to a proceeding in the Supreme Court or the County Court to give notice to the Attorney-General and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission if a question of law arises that relates to the application of the Charter, or a question arises with respect to the interpretation of a statutory provision in accordance with the Charter.

It is vital that those notice provisions are complied with in order to prevent unnecessary delays in proceedings.

I note that the Attorneys-General of Victoria and New South Wales signed an agreement this week that brings us closer to a single unified system of regulation for the legal profession. All involved should be congratulated for their efforts to bring harmony to the profession.

I also inform members that yesterday in the Victorian Parliament the Attorney-General introduced the next round of reforms to jury directions in criminal trials. The Jury Direction Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to amend the Jury Directions Act 2013 to include such topics as what facts need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, misconduct evidence, unreliable evidence, identification evidence, delay and forensic disadvantage, credibility, and the failure to give evidence or call witnesses.

Our Bar Christmas Party is this evening and some members may not be here next week, or accessing next week’s In Brief – so I include also in this Report the Compliments of the Season and wish all members a safe and restful holiday.

New Silks; Victorian Bar welcomes uniform regulation; Member Profiles and Recent Judgment

[6 Dec 2013]

I wish to again congratulate the fifteen new Senior Counsel appointed by the Chief Justice, the Honourable Marilyn Warren AC. This morning's welcome was well-attended and was a wonderful occasion for those members and their families and friends.

I note that today the Victorian and New South Wales governments have agreed on a uniform scheme for regulation of the legal profession. This will promote efficiency in administration and regulation, and provide consistency for clients of the legal market nationally, and the Attorneys-General should be congratulated for progressing us towards a truly national profession.

The Bar has received feedback during a recent survey that solicitors use the members’ profiles on the website extensively as part of their decision making process in choosing a barrister. However, they are often frustrated to see that many of the profiles are out of date or incomplete. I would like to encourage all members to ensure that their profile is representative of their current skills and experience. The holiday period is an ideal time to attend to housekeeping issues such as this. Tips and a "How To Guide" can be found on the members’ section of the website here.

Members should be alive to the recent judgment of Yara Australia Pty Ltd & Ors v Oswal [2013] VSCA 337 (27 November 2013). The Court of Appeal (Redlich and Priest JJA and Macaulay AJA) have emphasised the overarching obligation on legal practitioners under the Civil Procedure Act 2010 to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that the costs incurred in a proceeding are reasonable and proportionate to the complexity and importance of the issues and the sums in dispute. As the Court observed:

"The Act’s objective is the reform of the culture of unnecessary expenditure on civil litigation. Parliament has intended that this reform can only be achieved by holding parties to account for undesirable civil litigation practices that are unfortunately too common. The court was burdened with excessive material. The applicants and the respondents were burdened with the costs of that material. There has been a breach of the overarching obligation to ensure the costs are reasonable and proportionate by including in the application books voluminous material that was extraneous or repetitious and excessive."

It is very important that members pay due regard to those observations when preparing matters for hearing.

In the criminal sphere, I note that Mr Peter Morrissey SC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, has recently responded to some regrettable comments made in the political arena directed towards the impartiality of the decision-making process of the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is vital that those who occupy such important offices, and in doing so who serve the public, do not become the targets of politicised criticism. That is all the more so when such office holders are widely recognised as serving with absolute integrity and would never seek to respond to such criticism through the media.

New Senior Counsel; Mr John Rush RFD, QC and Judge Katherine Bourke

[29 Nov 2013]

I congratulate each of the fifteen new Senior Counsel appointed by the Chief Justice, the Honourable Marilyn Warren AC. Her Honour has been the appointor of silk in Victoria since 2004 and we are very fortunate that the Chief Justice is able to undertake such a responsibility whilst also leading the Victorian judiciary. All of those appointed have excelled in their fields, and are a testament to the quality of the profession in Victoria.
 
For those applicants that were unsuccessful please contact me by email by Friday 6 December 2013 if you require feedback.
 
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Chief Justice on her 10 year anniversary. Her Honour was the first woman to be appointed a Chief Justice to a state or territory court and remains a marvellous leader of our profession and a great supporter of the Victorian Bar.
 
I also wish to congratulate Mr John Rush RFD QC on his Honour's appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. His Honour is a former Chairman of the Bar Council. His Honour is renowned for his work in many cases over his 33 years as a barrister including his work in the Stolen Generation case, the McCabe litigation, as counsel assisting the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and the HMAS Sydney II Commission of Inquiry and in the recent Sunland Waterfront litigation. His Honour's diverse practice at the Bar spanned both trial and appellate advocacy and His Honour will serve the Supreme Court of Victoria with distinction.

The welcome will take place in the Banco Court at 9.15am on Thursday 5 December 2013.

Judge Katherine Bourke, previously a former member of the Bar Council is standing for re-election to the Board of the VRC and we wish her all the best and ask any member to consider casting a vote in her favour.

Appointment of Senior Counsel

[25 Nov 2013]

The Honourable Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC has today announced the appointment of the persons listed below as Senior Counsel in and for the State of Victoria -

Brent Maxwell Young
Diana Mary Harding
Andrew John Maryniak
David Paul Gilbertson
Gregory Peter Harris
Michael Sumner Osborne
Stephen John Sharpley
Melinda Jane Richards
Geoffrey Rowan Dickson
Richard Hugo Muecke Attiwill
Roisin Niambh Annesley
Jonathon Peter Moore
Susan Margaret Brennan
Jason David Pizer
Nicholas James Tweedie

The Ceremonial Sittings to receive the announcement of the appointments of Senior Counsel in and for the State of Victoria in the Supreme Court and Federal Court will take place on Friday 6 December 2013 as follows:

  • Supreme Court: 9.15am in the Banco Court, 210 William Street. The ceremony will immediately be followed by morning tea in the Supreme Court Library for the new Silks and their families.
  • Federal Court: 10.30am in Court 1, Level 8, Commonwealth Law Courts, 305 William Street
  • Family Court: 11.00am in Courtroom 4A, Level 4, Commonwealth Law Courts, 305 William Street.

News from the Chairman

[22 Nov 2013]

I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of last year's Bar Council, and in particular the dedication of Ms Fiona McLeod SC as Chair. The Quantum Leap project, which will address the high attrition rates of women at the Bar, is a testament to Fiona's work and is an important step in improving equality at the Bar.

The coming year will present many challenges. As barristers we must not  only be alert with regard to the changing legal landscape in both civil and criminal spheres, but we must also highlight our expertise to the broader legal community, particularly in the field of advocacy. Further, there is a need for us to continue to ensure that the junior Bar is supported and given opportunities for professional development.

I wish to congratulate Mr Robert Dyer on his appointment to the County Court of Victoria. His Honour's welcome was extremely well attended and he will make an outstanding contribution to the Victorian justice system as a judicial officer.

I also wish to congratulate Mr Timothy Walsh on his appointment to the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. His Honour brings a wealth of experience from his time at the Bar and he will be an excellent magistrate.

I note that last weekend the Magistrates' Court of Victoria commenced sitting on Saturdays and Sundays in order to hear in-custody matters.

The Bar Christmas Party will be held from 4:30pm on Friday 13 December 2013 in the foyer of Owen Dixon Chambers West. It will be a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues before the holidays and I hope to see you there.

Retiring Chair, Fiona McLeod SC

[15 Nov 2013]

On behalf of the Bar Council and the members of the Bar I wish to congratulate Fiona McLeod SC on an outstanding 12 months culminating in her launch of The Quantum Leap project. She’s been a tremendous leader and I congratulate her on her 19 years on the Bar Council.
 
I am honoured to be elected as Chairman for 2013/14. I am also delighted at the strength of the new Bar Council. Its members have a wide range of areas of practice and skill. There is a large number of new members on the Bar Council and a good number of excellent women elected in all categories. I look forward to working with the new Bar Council on the challenges ahead.   
 
My focus for the coming year will be on engaging and strengthening relationships with solicitors, the Courts and the community and working to improve opportunities for barristers.