Following the conclusion of the consultation period for the revised changes proposed to the New South Wales Barristersâ Rules on 16 May 2008, the Bar Council has now had the opportunity to consider all the additional submissions it received on the proposed amendments to the rules.
Bar Councilâs final consideration of this issue has come at the end of a lengthy process.
In accordance with the procedures laid down in the Legal Profession Act 2004, on 29 February 2008 notices appeared in the NSW Government Gazette, Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph advising of proposals to amend the New South Wales Barristersâ Rules (rules 35 & 35A) and inviting comments and submissions by 25 March. Notice of the proposed amendments was forwarded to the Legal Services Commissioner and circulated to the Bar by way of an In Brief.ï¿½ Submissions wereï¿½ received, mostly from members of the Bar, but also from members of the community. In response to requests from a number of barristers for further consultation, a general meeting of the Bar was held on 7 April and the deadline for submissions was extended to 14 April.
Following the general meeting on 7 April, I established a sub-committee of the Bar Council to consider all written submissions on the draft rules as well as the comments of those who spoke at the general meeting and to then make recommendations to the Council concerning the most desirable course of action.
The result of that process is that the sub-committee formulated amended draft rules, which were first presented to the Bar Council and then circulated to the Bar for comment for an additional two-week period which ended on 16 May 2008.
Bar Council has now considered the amended draft rules and all the submissions. At its meeting of 22 May Council resolved to approve the amended draft rules.
The amendments remove the changes that were originally suggested to rule 35 so that rule 35 would be unaltered from its present form and add new rules 35A and 35B.
Rule 35A is directed solely to the cross-examination of complainants who make allegations of sexual assault, whether the proceedings are criminal or civil.ï¿½ Rule 35B qualifies the operation of the rule and picks up the substance of s275A (3) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 which the yet to be commenced s41(3) of the Evidence Act 1995 will soon replace.
Now that Bar Council has approved the final form of the rule changes, the intention is to publish the changes in the Government Gazette on 30 May 2008 pursuant to s709 of the Legal Profession Act 2004, with the new provisions to commence on 1 July 2008.
The Association is organising a series of professional development seminars to bring the proposed changes to the attention of the Bar. Members will be notified of these seminars in the coming weeks. A copy of the new rule changes will also be provided to all members of the Bar with their 2008 â 2009 practising certificates
I would like to thank all members who took the time to comment on the proposed changes.
Anna Katzmann SC
23 May 2008