Victorian WorkCover review released for consultation

Fri Sep 26 2008

The first independent review into Victoria’s workers compensation legislation in over 20 years was released for community consultation today. The inquiry, conducted by�Peter Hanks QC, received�over 150 submissions.�The report contains in excess of 150 recommendations for further consideration.

Minister for WorkCover Tim Holding said: “While we have the best workers compensation system of any jurisdiction in Australia, we will look to this process for further ways to improve the support and services provided to injured workers and reduce the administrative burden on Victoria’s employers.”

View the Accident Compensation Act Review Report >

26 September 2008

Abolition of electronic lodgement fee in family law matters from 1 October 2008

Fri Sep 26 2008

The Legal Aid NSW Board has approved the abolition of the Electronic Lodgement Fee (“ELF”) payable to private legal practitioners in Commonwealth family law matters. The ELF was introduced in 2003 for private practitioners in Commonwealth family law matters, who were paid the sum of $80.00 for each approved legal aid application that was lodged electronically. The payment was introduced in part as an incentive to encourage use of the Grants Online system. It was subject to the ongoing availability of Commonwealth funds and is not paid for legal aid applications in other areas.

Since the introduction of the electronic lodgement fee, the use of information technology for a range of business activities, including electronic commerce, has increased significantly.� Electronic lodgement of grant applications is now consistent with the way in which many other transactions are commonly performed.

In addition, in recent years Legal Aid NSW has faced increasing pressure on available funds in Commonwealth matters. In light of these factors, Legal Aid NSW has decided to abolish the ELF.

Commencement date

The new policy will be effective for all applications submitted on or after 1 October 2008. A family law application submitted before that date and approved after that date will still qualify for the ELF.


Enquiries can be directed to Mary Whitehead, acting director grants, on ph: (02) 9219 5114 or by e-mail at

26 September 2008

NSW Government examining appeals from the Local Court

Thu Sep 25 2008

Attorney General John Hatzistergos�is considering 17 recommendations on changes to the�management of court appeals and reviews,�contained in an Attorney General's Department report on the statutory review of the�Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 The attorney cited as an example, appeals from the Local Court to the District Court.

"I am concerned defendants too often use Local Courts to test their case, only to appeal if they don't like the sentence handed down by a magistrate", he said.

The New South Wales Bar Association made a submission to the review.�The AG's office has indicated that the association will be consulted further.

View the attorney's media release� |� View the report>

25 September 2008

Changes to compensation for victims of unlawful discrimination

Thu Sep 25 2008

The maximum compensation pay-out for victims of unlawful discrimination will more than double under legislation introduced into the New South Wales Parliament today. Attorney General John Hatzistergos said�amendments to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997 would give the Tribunal the power to award victims up to $100,000 if unlawful compensation was proven. View the attorney's media release� |� View the Bill>

25 September 2008

New South Wales Government adopts equitable briefing policy

Thu Sep 25 2008

The New South Wales Government has formally adopted�the Equitable Briefing Policy for Female Barristers and Advocates. This policy, formulated by the Law Council of Australia, shall be "applied by both clients and legal practitioners (including in-house counsel) throughout NSW Government agencies".

The object of the policy is to "maximise choices for legal practitioners and their clients, promote the full use of the Independent Bar, and optimise opportunities for practice development of all counsel or solicitor advocates".�

"The adoption of equitable briefing practices", the document says,�"can play an important role in the progression of women in the law, the judiciary and the wider community".

View the briefing policy>

25 September 2008

EPLA Conference, Bangalow, 17-18 October

Thu Sep 25 2008

The Environment and Planning Law Association (NSW) is holding its 2008 annual conference in the heritage village of Bangalow in the Northern Rivers hinterland on 17-18 October. The speakers at the conference will be addressing issues relevant to all persons interested in environment and planning law in NSW, and will focus on:

>> climage change in the development assessment process; >> biodiversity banking; and >> rural, coastal and regional issues.

In addition, the conference will feature its regular session on recent developments in planning and development law.

The dinner is being held on 16 October at the Pacific Dining Room, in the famous Beach Hotel, Byron Bay.

For more information about the conference program and�activities, or to register, download a brochure>

10 October�2008

Cases selected for reporting in NSWLR by the editor, Bret Walker SC

Thu Sep 25 2008

The following five cases will be published in a forthcoming volume of NSWLR:

Sydney West Area Health Service v Staracek [2008] NSWSC 744 Perpetual Trustee Company Ltd and Another v Agusta Pty Ltd [2008] NSWSC 646

R v Boujaoude [2008] NSWCCA 35 Najdovski v Crnojlovic [2008] NSWCA 175 Mahenthirarasa v State Rail Authority of New South Wales (No 2) [2008] NSWCA 201

For further information, please contact the Council of Law Reporting office:, phone 9266 0768.

25 September 2008

Sexual assault trials: has the pendulum swung too far against the accused?

Wed Sep 24 2008

At forthcoming�International Criminal Law Congress, Daily Telegraph journalist Lisa Davies will join Stephen Odgers SC and Margaret Cunneen SC for what is sure to be a lively panel discussion on sexual assault trials, to be moderated by Annie Cossins of the University of New South Wales. The session takes place on Saturday, 11 October at 1.00pm. View the conference program or visit the web site to register. Attendance at the congress will attract one CPD point per hour, up to a maximum of six points.

24 September 2008

Facilities at King Street and Darlinghurst Court complexes

Wed Sep 24 2008

In response to approaches from the Bar Association, the NSW Attorney General’s Department has provided details of the rooms available for practitioners at King Street and Darlinghurst Court complexes.

King Street Court

There is an area in the ‘Old Probate Rooms’ on Level 1 which has been refurbished and contains two suites of rooms, one for prosecution and one for defence counsel.� This is a secure area and can only be accessed by swipe card.� Access to these facilities can be arranged through the Sheriff's officers at King St.� This area is ideally located for Courts 2 & 3 and the Bail Court (Court 1).� The department is planning additional rooms for use by prosecution and defence counsel near the Old Banco Court as part of the planned refurbishment of that court. The department has also advised that there are also a number of rooms available near Court 5.

Darlinghurst Court � The department has advised the main robing room located between courts 3 and 5 is available for the exclusive use of defence counsel. Suitable signage will be arranged so that it is clear that this room is for the use of barristers as a robing room.�Rooms are available for the use of defence counsel near Court 7 and outside courts 1 and 2.� Access to these rooms can be arranged by contacting the Sheriff’s officers at Darlinghurst Courthouse.�

24 September 2008

Bar Council election timetable

Wed Sep 24 2008

This circular serves as a preliminary notice for the forthcoming election of the 2010 Bar Council. The election timetable includes dates for opening and closing of nominations, as well as the annual general meeting.

View the preliminary notice>

23 September 2009

Reminder: 2008 Hal Wootten Lecture to be held on 16 October 2008

Wed Sep 24 2008

The 2008 Hal Wootten Lecture will be delivered by Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten AC QC.�His topic will be�‘Living in the Law'; a personal account�of�the perennial challenges that face everyone who chooses a life in the law, based on his 20 years practice at the NSW Bar, eleven as a Supreme Court judge, three as a royal commissioner and three as a deputy president of the National Native Title Tribunal. The annual Hal Wootten Lecture was established in 2006 by the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales in honour of its founding dean. Previous speakers have been His Excellency Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, (then) Prime Minister of Timor-Leste and Justice Michael McHugh.�Learn more >�

14�October 2008

Fees owed to counsel - Avondale Lawyers

Tue Sep 23 2008

Pursuant to s623(2) of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (NSW), the Law Society of New South Wales has appointed a�manager to the law practice of Avondale Lawyers, 25 O'Connell Street, Parramatta. The practice is still operating. Counsel with outstanding fees should contact the manager, Mr Shafic Jack Eid of Messrs Regency Lawyers, Suite 3, Level 1, 76 Phillip Street, Parramatta, as soon as possible.

Whilst the manager will do whatever can be done to assist counsel to recover fees, it is each counsel's responsibility to ensure the adequacy of his or her commercial arrangements with instructing solicitors and the manager may not be able to assist.

23 September 2008

Tue Sep 23 2008

On top of the new parenting laws, the NSW Government has reformed almost 50 other laws that extend equal rights and obligations to de-facto couples.

Bench and Bar v Solicitors chess match

Tue Sep 23 2008

The Bench and Bar v Solicitors chess match for the Terry Shaw Shield is to be played on 16 October at 5.45 pm.� If you are interested in playing please contact Gordon McGrath at or ph: (02) 9335 3022 or team captain Robert Colquhoun.

23 September 2008

National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, 14-15 November 2008

Tue Sep 23 2008

The Law Council of Australia and the National Pro Bono Resource Centre have teamed up again to host the second National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference, to be held on 14 and 15 November 2008 in Sydney. The conference will centre on the key theme of "Working Together".

About $250 million of work was undertaken on a pro bono basis by Australian solicitors in 2007, and this figure continues to rise. On average, this amounts to every solicitor giving one week each year of their time free of charge to the community.

These figures demonstrate how active the legal profession is within the pro bono arena. Over the course of this two-day conference, you will hear from leading legal practitioners covering topics including:

  • improving the accessibility of justice for the Indigenous people and other disadvantaged litigants;
  • legal funding models;
  • access to justice in rural, regional and remote areas; and
  • a�review of the jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court.

The full program can be found at along with the registration form. A "book�four get the�fifth free" offer is available for the duration of the booking period with the early bird period due to close soon.

6 November�2008

Presumed guilty? What do jurors really think? A Julie McCrossin hypothetical

Mon Sep 22 2008

Julie McCrossin will moderate a hypothetical on juries at the forthcoming International Criminal Law Congress, on Saturday, 11 October. Julie will engage in a lively and interactive discussion with the audience and a panel of experts, comprised of the Hon James Wood QC, Malcolm Knox,�Emeritus Professor Michael Chesterman and Associate Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty.�The aim will be to identify the�key challenges facing the jury system, including the impact of the media and the Internet.

Points for discussion will include:

  • relevant research and international reforms;
  • the impact of high profile cases; and
  • reforms to the jury system.

There will be�regular opportunities for questions and comments from the audience. For further information, or to register for the International Criminal Law Congress, visit the conference web site.

22 September 2008

LCA: Federal Police adopted a "better to be safe than sorry" approach to Haneef case

Mon Sep 22 2008

The Law Council, in its�submission to the Clarke Inquiry into the Case of Dr Mohamed Haneef, has�called for an independent review of all Australia's terrorism laws. Speaking at�a public forum, held in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, President Ross Ray QC said that: "When the police arrested and detained Dr Haneef, they appeared to be operating in the shadow of the law, rather than according to the letter of the law."

Joining a panel of legal and law enforcement experts at the forum, Ross Ray QC said, “We have long argued that our anti-terrorism laws strike the wrong balance between community safety and individual freedoms.”

View the LCA media release >

22 September 2008

Commonwealth A-G congratulates Law Council for sterling service to the profession

Mon Sep 22 2008

Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland has congratulated the Law Council of Australia for its contributions to public policy and its representation of the legal profession. Speaking at the LCA's 75th anniversay dinner in Canberra on Friday�night, the attorney�said that the Law Council�is�"not simply an adornment to the legal profession in Australia but integral to it". View the attorney's speech>

22 September 2008

The Law Council celebrates its 75th anniversary

Fri Sep 19 2008

Judges, politicians and prominent members of the legal profession will gather in Canberra this evening to mark the Law Council of Australia’s 75th anniversary.�Chief Justice Robert French and�Attorney-General Robert McClelland will be among nearly 200 guests at the Australian War Memorial’s Anzac Hall. Learn more>

To mark the occasion, the Law Council has produced a commemorative edition of the Law Council Times. Download a PDF copy>

19 September 2008

Brain and Mind Research Institute survey on depression in the legal profession

Thu Sep 18 2008

Professor Ian Hickey from the Brain and Mind Research Institute spoke this morning�on Radio National's Breakfast programme about the�high incidence�of depression among Australian lawyers and law students. Professor Hickey�previewed the results of�his survey, which will be delivered at�tonight's Tristan Jepson Memorial Lecture.

The institute's survey of 2,413 lawyers included 738 students from 13 law schools nationally, 924 solicitors and 751 barristers. It found the level of distress was high in all three groups but was particularly pronounced in students.

"There is certainly that commercial pressure, a strong sense of competitiveness and lawyers themselves obviously are very committed, often obsessional, perfectionistic and�...�[with] that kind of personality and that kind of environment, potentially there's a toxic mix", said Professor Hickey.

The transcript of Professor Hickey's interview on Radio National is available in the Bar Library.

18 September 2008

Australian Bureau of Statistics report on corrective services paints a mixed picture

Thu Sep 18 2008

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has published data�on persons in custody and community-based corrections during�the June quarter of 2008.�The average daily number of full-time prisoners in Australia during that time was 26,677. The Northern Territory had the highest imprisonment rate (590 prisoners per 100,000 adult population), followed by Western Australia (230) and New South Wales (182).

The national average daily Indigenous imprisonment rate in the June quarter 2008 was 2,190 per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, an increase of two per cent from the previous quarter and a decrease of�one per cent�from the June quarter 2007. Learn more�>

18 September 2008

International commercial arbitration: making it work for business

Thu Sep 18 2008

Attorney-General Robert McClelland, the Hon Justice James Allsop, Malcolm Holmes QC and Andrew Bell SC will be among those speaking at a conference on international commercial arbitration. The conference, which will feature live video links to speakers in the United Kingdom, will be�held at the Hotel InterContinental, corner of Bridge and Phillip streets on 21 November 2008. The conference is accredited for CPD purposes, attracting a maximum of six points. For more information, or to register, download a brochure>

28�October 2008

Update on the condition of Chris Branson QC

Thu Sep 18 2008

Chris Branson QC is now in Acute Care at the Royal North Shore Hospital. His progress is slow and unpredictable at this stage and we are dealing with things mainly on an hour by hour basis. He has developed a number of blood clots in his legs which pose a considerable risk and these are being monitored very closely.

On Monday there were concerns that one or more of these clots had moved to his lungs however scans showed this not to be the case - yet. Those scans also showed that he is now dealing with fluid in both lungs (initially just the right lung) which is not aided by the MRSA infection already in his lungs. Today two further drains have been inserted into his lungs and a Vena Cava Filter has been inserted into his left leg in an attempt to prevent clots from traveling to his lungs or heart.

Chris was scheduled to undergo further surgery on his shattered right femur this morning however this surgery was cancelled last night following a review by his respiratory specialist and other treating physicians. This surgery has been tentatively rescheduled for the morning of Friday 19 September however this depends upon his progress over the next two days.

I must reiterate that Chris is in no condition to accept visitors or phone calls. He is now and will continue to be constantly monitored by both Acute Care and Intensive Care staff until his condition has stabilised. He is on continuous oxygen and cannot speak for more than a few seconds at a time and the injuries to his hands and arms prevent him from picking up or holding a telephone.

I can however assure you that all messages, cards, letters etc are being passed on to him and he is especially grateful to those who have taken the time to write highly amusing letters which I read to him with some trepidation!

The children and I are managing as well as can be expected and we would like to once again thank all members of the Bench and Bar for their messages of support and for their prayers.

Annemarie Branson

18 September 2008