More appointments by the federal attorney-general

Fri Sep 28 2007

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock�has announced�more appointments to organisations within his portfolio, including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Australian Law Reform Commission, the National Native Title Tribunal�and the Family Law Council.

Steve Karas AO has been appointed as a part-time senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. View the media release>

The Hon Justice Berna Collier has been appointed as a part-time member of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). View the media release>

Daniel O'Dea has been reappointed as a member of the National Native Title Tribunal. View the media release>

Family Law Council appointments

Professor John Wade has been appointed as the new chairperson of the Family Law Council. Professor Wade teaches law at Bond University. He was previously a member of the Family Law Council from 1988 to 1990.� His term as chairperson is for three years from the date of appointment.

Mr Ruddock also announced the re-appointment of Justice Garry Watts, Ms Nicola Davies and Mr Clive Price to the Council for a further term of three years.

View the media release>

28 September 2007

A series of Bar Council events

Fri Sep 28 2007

This circular serves as a preliminary notice for the forthcoming election of the 2008 Bar Council.�The election timetable includes dates for�opening and closing of nominations, as well as the annual general meeting. View the preliminary notice>

28 September 2007

Call for greater access to the Bar of England and Wales

Thu Sep 27 2007

The chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, Geoffrey Vos QC, has called for greater access to the Bar and has encouraged politicians to continue to recognise the importance of social mobility. An inquiry into entry to the Bar is being conducted by Lord Neuberger, with the working party expected to deliver its report at the end of this year. View the media release>

27 September 2007

Media briefing: Barristers' Rules and cross examination in sexual assault trials

Thu Sep 27 2007

President Michael Slattery QC�appeared on�three radio programmes yesterday,�in response�to the NSW Government’s request to change the Barristers' Rules regarding sexual assault trials. These�included ABC 702 Breakfast�at�07:11am and�2UE Breakfast�at 07:20am.�

The following is an extract from an interview with Sandi Aloisi on ABC Newsradio.

MICHAEL SLATTERY: All members of the Bar Association are immensely sympathetic to the ordeal that many victims of rape have to go through in giving their evidence.� It's a very difficult thing to do.�On the other hand there's�a fundamental problem: the court system�[has] to sort out those who are genuine victims from those who are not.

It's done by a process of testing evidence�and the reality is that sometimes it can be very difficult. Barristers try to do it responsibly, but it is a process where, if they have instructions to say that these events did not happen, the jury is the one�which has to decide upon a contest of evidence.�

SANDI ALOISI:�Yes, would it be right to say though that some barristers have been guilty of intimidating rape victims in the court room?

MICHAEL SLATTERY:�Well, can I put it this way?� We have a very open complaint system, and the legal services commissioner also supervises the Bar Association through an open complaint system authorised under the Legal Profession Act.� And there are very, very few complaints. The direct hard evidence of�complaints against the Bar is very, very low, actually.

But, that being said, we're still happy to look at this because all improvement is good.� But you've got to understand that the contest has to take place.� Many of the sexual assault trials, for example, involve children, or people who were children when the assaults are alleged to have occurred.�They may have taken place 20 or more years ago.�Sometimes sexual assault allegations are made in the course of a family breakup or separation.�There are all sorts of motivational issues that arise there.

The court system and juries and judges have got to sort that out.� And they can only do it�[by] testing of the evidence.� It's got to be done sensitively.�

A�few of the proposals that are being put up have got practical problems attached to them.� They're very hard to implement, and that's our concern.� We're having a talk with the attorney, but let me give you an example.

One of the suggestions is that counsel should refuse instructions if that would involve harassment of the witness.� Now, pure harassment is currently improper and judges should rule it out now, and no responsible barrister would engage in it.� But sometimes, if the instructions are that events didn't take place the way the alleged victim says they did, then, that's got to be tested, and that can be distressing.�Frankly, if the person is lying it's a humiliating process to be exposed as a liar.

Someone has to sort out the genuine cases from the ones that aren't.� And the reality is not every allegation is true.

Let's�focus on two things.� The rights and dignity of genuine victims, and the rights of a fair trial for the accused.� They're the two things that have got to be balanced.� And we welcome the ideas, but it's important to make them workable, and there's still a bit of discussion to take place on that.

For further information regarding the president's on air comments, contact the Bar Association's director of law reform and public affairs, Alastair McConnachie.

27 September 2007

More federal judicial appointments

Thu Sep 27 2007

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock�has announced appointments to the Family Court, the Federal Magistrates Court and the Defence Discipline Appeal Tribunal.

Peter Murphy SC has been appointed as a judge of the Family Court of Australia. View the media release>

Susan Purdon-Sully has been appointed as a federal magistrate, based in Brisbane. View the media release>

Justice Kevin Duggan AM RFD has been reappointed as a member of the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal. View the media release>

27 September 2007

Two barristers nominated for the Women Lawyers Achievement Awards

Thu Sep 27 2007

Kate Traill and Margaret Cunneen SC have been nominated for this year's NSW Women Lawyers Achievement Awards. For more information, visit the awards page of the WLA web site.

The Women Lawyers Association of NSW invites members of the Bar to attend their 2007 Awards Dinner. The guest speaker will be the Honourable Acting Justice Jane Mathews AO, and human rights lawyer and renowned playwright, Suzie Miller, will be the master of ceremonies for the evening.

Download a registration brochure>

Time: 7.30pm – 11.30pm Date: Friday 19th October 2007 Venue: Hilton, 488 George, Sydney

11�October 2007

New appointments to the Federal Court

Wed Sep 26 2007

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today announced the appointments of four new judges to the Federal Court of Australia:�Dr Geoffrey Flick SC, Mr John Logan RFD SC, Mr Neil McKerracher QC and Mr John Reeves QC. View the media release >

26 September 2007


Major parties fall short on legal aid funding

Wed Sep 26 2007

Both major parties have failed to give any commitment to minimum increases in legal aid funding, despite Australia recording a combined budget surplus of $28 billion over the past two years.

Law Council President Tim Bugg said, “The budget surplus in 2006/07 was $17.3 billion; this year it is projected to be $10.6 billion – yet we’re supposed to accept that a fraction of this amount cannot be spared to assist less fortunate Australians pursue their right to justice.”

Read the Law Council's media release >

26 September 2007

Charter of Rights Options Paper: send us your comments

Wed Sep 26 2007

The Bar Association resolved on 4 May 2006 to support the previous attorney general’s call for a community consultation with respect to a charter of human rights for NSW. It sought from its Human Rights Committee an options paper considering the models that are available and which one the committee recommended.

Read the committee's options paper >>� | Send your comments to Cindy Penrose at the Bar Association.


17 October 2007

ALRC releases discussion paper on client legal privilege and federal investigatory bodies

Wed Sep 26 2007

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released a Discussion Paper, Client Legal Privilege and Federal Investigatory Bodies (Discussion Paper 73), containing 42 proposals aimed ataddressing lengthy and costly disputes over client legal privilege in federal investigations.

View the ALRC's media release >� |� Visit�Austlii to obtain a copy of�Discussion Paper 73>

In June 2007 the Bar Association made a submission to the inquiry. Download a copy>

26 September 2007

2007 Forbes Lecture: The Life and Times of William Charles Wentworth

Wed Sep 26 2007

The Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History invites all members of the Bar to attend its annual lecture, to be held on Thursday, 8�November 2007�at 5pm in the Bar Association Common Room. This subject of this year's lecture, to be delivered by Andrew Tink, MP will be the career of William Charles Wentworth.���

Accepting the invitation to deliver the lecture, Mr Tink remarked that, "As a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, I was confronted in the�parliament every sitting day for 19 years by an aggressive, larger than life portrait of William Charles Wentworth, a founder of the Bar, a free press, trial by jury and responsible government in NSW."

"Despite Wentworth’s achievements and his brilliant, volcanic personality – the product of a convict mother and a father who was the black sheep of one of Britain’s most distinguished families - no full length biography of him has yet been written", said Mr Tink.

After standing down as shadow attorney general and shadow leader of the House, Mr Tink accepted an offer from Allen and Unwin to write Wentworth’s biography.�

12 October 2007�

Tonight: A seminar on international practice

Wed Sep 26 2007
International practice

Tonight, the president of the NSW Bar Association, Michael Slatttery QC will introduce�the first of a series of�CPD seminars on international practice. This seminar will focus on coming to the Bar in England and Wales, covering issues such as:

  • overcoming the legal and practical obstacles to admission;
  • types of work that are realistically attainable; and
  • the speakers’ impressions and experiences in a jurisdiction. Leonard Levy SC will chair the session, as well as adding his own experiences and thoughts. For more information, [download a flyer][1]�> 26 September 2007 [1]:

The Bar Association supports beyondblue's Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month

Tue Sep 25 2007

The recent report from Beaton consulting and beyondblue regarding the mental health in the legal profession is the cause of considerable concern. The Bar Association supports the Anxiety and Depression Awareness (ADA) Month during October to raise awareness of anxiety and depression and help reduce the associated stigma. Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month Kits from beyondblue have been ordered for each chambers and will be distributed soon. 27 September 2007

Listings of bankruptcy matters in the Federal Court

Tue Sep 25 2007

From 2 October 2007, matters filed in the original jurisdiction of the Federal Court under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 will be made returnable on a Wednesday at 9am in the Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney before a registrar. Any matters that require a hearing by a judge will be referred to either the duty judge on that Wednesday or allocated to a judge’s docket in the usual course. View the Federal Court notice>

25 September 2007

Papers to note: Human Rights Watch report on US sex offender laws

Tue Sep 25 2007

In the United States, “Megan’s Laws” have established online registries to provide the criminal history, current photograph, current address, and place of employment of those convicted of sexual offences, especially those committed�against children.

No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US, by Human Rights Watch,�argues�that these laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted and often cause more harm than good.

Download a copy of the report (NB the report is 146 pages) >��

A copy of the report is held in the Bar Library.

25 September 2007

Speeches to note: Australia's Contribution to the Common Law

Mon Sep 24 2007

In this�speech, which�was delivered at the Singapore Academy of Law on 20 September,�the Hon A M Gleeson AC, chief justice of Australia,�asserts that the High Court does not pursue "self-consciously any intellectual or political fashion."

The court, he said,�has "always been in the mainstream of the common law tradition, and its decisions generally have been in line with decision of its counterparts elsewhere." He cites examples, which show it "acting sometimes creatively and sometimes traditionally, sometimes boldly and sometimes cautiously, but in all cases consistently in the application of a judicial method [and] in the mainstream of the common law tradition".� View the chief justice's speech>

24 September 2007

Statement of Status for admission to another jurisdiction

Mon Sep 24 2007

When a person moves their principal place of practice to another state/territory/country, they may be required to provide a Statement of Status from all jurisdictions in which they are admitted.

The Bar Association provides such a statement to any practitioners (current and former) requesting . There is no charge for members of the association, but a $55 fee applies to non-members even if they hold a current practising certificate.

The relevant order form is available from the Bar Association’s reception. Applicants should be aware that it can take up to three days for all the searches to be conducted and should therefore not leave their request until the last minute.

16 January 2008

Web watch: Tim Castle's Capital Punishment Database

Sat Sep 22 2007

The names, crimes and fate of the 1300 people who were sentenced to death between 1826 and 1837 are contained in Tim Castle's Capital Punishment Database, which is hosted on the Forbes Society's web site. Some were executed, and many others were reprieved by the Governor and the Executive Council only to face a term of transportation to places such as Norfolk Island or Moreton Bay. Visit the database>

24 September 2007

Papers to note: Persecution of Lawyers in Zimbabwe

Fri Sep 21 2007

As defenders of human rights, Zimbabwean�lawyers often find themselves being targets of persecution. This briefing paper by the Law Society of Zimbabwe�contains an exhaustive report of the persecution of lawyers in that country, since August 2006, which includes sustained media bashing, arbitrary arrests and detention, organized violence and torture, impeding access to clients, noncompliance with court orders, arbitrary searches of legal offices and seizures of documents. Read the briefing paper >>

21 September 2007