Web watch: LCA backgrounders on a charter of rights

Fri Feb 27 2009

To assist individuals or organisations in preparing submissions on a charter of rights, or in simply finding out more about what it would mean, the Law Council has prepared a range of material, including fact sheets, case studies and Q&A documents. A dedicated web page containing this material, including the Law Council’s policy, has been placed on the council’s web site at

27 February 2009 �

Letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph

Fri Feb 27 2009

The following is the full text of an (unpublished) letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph from President Anna Katzmann SC concerning Tuesday's story entitled "Sex Trials Warning".

Janet Fife-Yeomans’s piece “Sex trials warning” in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph wholly misrepresents the position of the New South Wales Bar Association on cross-examination in sex trials.

Contrary to the statement in that article, the Bar Association did not reject a request from the Attorney General to make it a disciplinary offence to intimidate or harass witnesses in all sex trials. On the contrary, it did precisely the opposite. Changes made last year to the NSW Barristers Rules proscribe such behaviour in all proceedings in which an allegation of sexual assault is made.

The suggestion made in the article that because the new rule applies to ‘sexual assault’ cases, indecent assaults or acts of indecency are somehow outside the scope of the rules, or that barristers are entitled to intimidate or harass witnesses making such allegations is entirely false.

At law, the concept of assault covers a range of behaviour; it is not limited to actual physical contact. The new rule covers, not just cases involving sexual intercourse, but all sorts of sexual assaults, including indecent assaults and acts of indecency.�� In any case, improper cross-examination of witnesses – whether or not it offends the terms of the Barristers Rules – can be ‘a disciplinary offence’.

The Bar Association is committed to the fair treatment in cross-examination of complainants in all sex trials.

Anna Katzmann SC President New South Wales Bar Association

Papers to note: BOCSAR report on clear up rates in sexual assault cases

Thu Feb 26 2009

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has released a report into the decline in the clear up rate for sexual assault since the mid-1990s. The report cites a change in the profile of sexual assaults coming to the attention of police. In particular, there has been:

  • an increase in the proportion of cases where the victim knows the offender. there were twice as many cases in 2006 where the suspected offender was a current or former partner than there were in 2000;

  • an increase in the proportion of cases where the victim declines to give evidence against the accused person; and

  • a statistically significant fall in the proportions of incidents involving physical injury, weapon use and co-occurring offences.

Each of these factors has been shown to reduce the chances of prosecution and, therewith, the capacity of the police to clear the offence.

26 February 2009

Changes to Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court forms

Thu Feb 26 2009

The Family Court has published a notice to the profession advising it of changes to forms resulting from the commencement, on 1 March 2009, of the substantive provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 which confer de facto property jurisdiction on the family law courts.�

The Family Law Amendment Rules 2009 (No.1) amend the Family Law Rules 2004 to incorporate changes to support the new trial and case management pathway and docket system, the de facto relationship amendments and amendments to introduce the Initiating Application (Family Law) and Response to Initiating Application (Family Law).

26 February 2009

Wanted: volunteer for immigration rights centre

Wed Feb 25 2009

The Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC) is seeking the pro bono services of a member of the bar with expertise in employment law and contracts to join its Management Committee. IARC is a non-profit community based organisation providing specialist immigration legal services to disadvantaged immigrants and refugees. It is also a leader in the delivery of continuing professional development for legal practitioners and immigration agents. It has for many years published The Immigration Kit – a leading text in the field of immigration law and practice. For more information on IARC visit the IARC website at

The Management Committee meets on the Tuesday of the last week of each month at 6pm at its Kent Street office. Meetings are generally of one hour’s duration.

The commitment would involve membership of and regular attendance at Management Committee meetings, and occasional pro bono advice.

Members of the bar willing to offer their services should contact Suhad Kamand – director / principal of IARC on (02) 9279-4300 or via e-mail:

25 February 2009

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

Wed Feb 25 2009

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

Thomas v State of New South Wales [2008] NSWCA 316 Tamerji v Rhee [2008] NSWCA 314 Dome Resources NL v Silver [2008] NSWCA 322

Commissioner of Taxation v Sims [2008] NSWCA 298 Wattyl Australia Pty Ltd v McArthur [2008] NSWCA 326

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

25 February 2009

New judicial appointments

Wed Feb 25 2009

New South Wales Attorney General John Hatzistergos has announced three new judicial appointments:

>> The Hon Justice Peter Young has been appointed as a judge of appeal, replacing Justice Virginia Bell; >> The Hon Justice Patricia Bergin will become the new chief judge in Equity; >> Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions David Frearson SC has been appointed to the bench of the NSW District Court.

Mr Frearson will be sworn in at a ceremony on Monday, 2 March 2009.

In addition, Chief Justice Spigelman has appointed the Hon Justice David Hammerschlag to head the Commercial List and the Technology and Construction List.

25 February 2009


Protective commissioner fees to be reduced

Wed Feb 25 2009

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has released a report recommending that certain fees paid to the Office of the Protective Commissioner (OPC) be capped at significantly lower levels than at present. In a media release issued today, the chief executive of IPART, Mr Jim Cox, said the new caps are designed to reduce cross-subsidisation between OPC clients that exists in the current fee structures. View the IPART report>

Attorney General John Hatzistergos, in a media statement issued today, has announced that the new fee structure will be implemented in two installments, on 1 April and 1 July 2009.

25 February 2009

Correction: retirement ceremony for the Hon Justice Brian Tamberlin

Tue Feb 24 2009

It was reported in yesterday's In Brief that a ceremonial sitting to mark the retirement of the Hon Justice Brian Tamberlin will be held in courtroom 21A of the Law Courts Building. This was incorrect. **

The ceremony will be held in Courtroom 18D, Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney on Friday 27 March 2009.** In Brief apologises for any confusion this may have caused.

24 February 2009

Notice to accredited mediators and those interested in accreditation

Tue Feb 24 2009

The NSW Bar Association has been a Recognised Mediation Accreditation Body (RMAB) since May 2008. Since this date, the association has accredited 67 members as mediators. To better inform accredited mediators of upcoming events, important application dates, mediation-specific CPDs and other mediation related information, the Bar Association has set up a broadcast e-mail list. Currently, the list consists of mediators accredited by the Bar Association as well as the association’s ADR Committee members.

Members who are accredited mediators through another organisation or who are interested in applying for accreditation in the future are welcome to join the e-mail list, which will be updated at the end of March.

If you wish to have your name placed on the Accredited Mediators’ broadcast e-mail list, please e-mail the Bar Association’s project officer Ms Jo Wilton at

24 February 2009

2009 Bar Library Academy Awards Competition

Tue Feb 24 2009

The Bar Library has announced the winners of the 2009 Academy Awards Competition. There was a two-way tie for first place between two members of the Bar Association's staff, Chris D'Aeth and Tess Santos. In fact, staff at the association did remarkably well. There was a three-way tie for third place between:

  • Gary Lowe, University Chambers

  • Justin Hewitt, 8th Floor Selborne Chambers

  • Neil Jackson, Frederick Jordan Chambers

In order to protect names and reputations, a full list of the results will not be published. However, if you wish to know how you fared, contact the librarian via e-mail:

24 February 2009

Web watch: the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln

Tue Feb 24 2009

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln is an eight-volume set first published in 1953.� The set contains correspondence, speeches, and other of Lincoln’s writings, and these were transcribed and annotated over a number of years.� The Abraham Lincoln Association and the University of Michigan have made them available online.�

Whilst it may not be strictly relevant to a 21st century legal practice, hours can be spent browsing the works of a great lawyer, president and orator. The site is fully searchable and contains materials such as a first draft of the Gettysburg Address and an otherwise unremarkable "card of admission" [to the White House] for a Mr Ashmun and friend, signed by Mr Lincoln at 8.30 pm on 14 April 1865 on his way to the theatre where he was assassinated.

24 February 2009

Speeches to note: AG McClelland addresses the 2009 Constitutional Law Conference

Mon Feb 23 2009

Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland delivered an address to the 2009 Constitutional Law Conference at New South Wales Parliament House last Friday evening. The attorney reflected on how the Magna Carta has had a profound impact on the evolution of the rule of law, and outlined the debate over the extent to which fundamental international human rights principles have influenced the development of the common law. Mr McClelland then drew a connection to the public consultation on a charter of rights and invited the profession to have a say on the issue.

23 February 2009

Position vacant at the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales

Mon Feb 23 2009

Legal Aid NSW is seeking applicants for the position of director, family law (Permanent full-time).� The total remuneration package is valued at up to $159,086 per annum, including salary ($135,063 to $144,586), employer’s contribution to superannuation and annual leave loading.

As the most senior legal professional in the Family Law Division, the successful applicant would:

  • manage the resources and services for the statewide family law practice in line with the corporate priorities and objectives;

  • develop policies, practices and systems to ensure innovative, high quality legal services to the community; and

  • contribute to the broader work of Legal Aid NSW, including strategy, service delivery planning and law reform. �

Selection criteria

  • Demonstrated leadership and authority in the practice of family law.�
  • High level management skills and experience in the effective utilisation of staffing and financial resources. �
  • Strategic analysis, planning and change management skills.

  • Proven capacity in reviewing, developing and setting policy, practice and standards in family law.

  • High level communication, consultation, interpersonal and written skills.

  • Legal qualifications - hold or eligible to hold a current NSW Practising Certificate issued by the Law Society of NSW. �

  • Thorough knowledge of, or capacity to acquire knowledge of, legal aid functions and services. �

  • Strong commitment and capacity to implement Government and Legal Aid NSW policies and practices. �

Enquiries: Steve O’Connor, deputy chief executive officer, legal, on (02) 9219 5917.

Download an information pack and an application form

Applications to:� Human Resource Management, Office of the Legal Aid Commission, PO Box K847, Haymarket NSW 1238; or via email to

Job Reference No.: EX09/017. Closing Date: Monday, 9 March 2009.

23 February 2009

Upcoming seminars from Legalwise

Mon Feb 23 2009

Legalwise Seminars has organised skills-based seminars to help members of the bar stay abreast of all the latest legislative developments. Join them for Gaming and Liquor Licensing Update a half-day seminar to be held in Sydney.

Another Legalwise seminar that will be of interest to members is Out of Court Settlements - Getting Them Right

At Legalwise Seminars, each event is designed to keep you up-to-date on recent developments, using the highest calibre of speakers.�

To register simply fax back the attached registration forms to 9387 8711. For further information, please call ph: (02) 9387 8133. Accreditation for the above seminars will be attributed on a case by case basis.�

12 March 2009

Recent decisions of the House of Lords

Fri Feb 20 2009

The following two opinions of the lords of appeal are available on the House of Lords web site, the first of which relates to the deportation to Jordan of Abu Qatada.

RB (Algeria) (FC) and another (Appellants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, OO (Jordan) (Original Respondent and Cross-appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Original Appellant and Cross-respondent)� [2009] UKHL 10

Mitchell (AP) and another (Original Respondents and Cross-appellants) v Glasgow City Council (Original Appellant and Cross-respondents) (Scotland)� [2009] UKHL 11

For more information on House of Lords judgments, visit the Westminster Parliament's web site>

20 February 2009

Peak legal bodies criticise the Foreign Evidence Amendment Bill

Thu Feb 19 2009

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the Law Council of Australia are opposed to some provisions of the Foreign Evidence Amendment Bill 2008, which was introduced into the Federal Parliament in December.

Mr Stephen Blanks, secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties described the bill as "inconsistent with due process and a major infringement on civil liberties".

“The changes mean the accused will have to prove a foreign business document is not reliable, otherwise it will automatically go into evidence,” Mr Blanks said.

View the council's media release >

19 February 2009

When judgments are removed from online sources

Thu Feb 19 2009

NSW Caselaw was developed in 1999 to provide on-line published judgments and decisions for courts and tribunals in New South Wales. Occasionally, judgments may be removed. For example, an earlier decision mentioning the accused may be removed while the person is being tried (or retried) by a jury. Once the jury trial is finished, the judgment is returned. Judgments will also be removed from AustLII and sites maintained by LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. For further information, visit� Judgments and decisions not available on NSW Caselaw >

19 February 2009

Recent appointments

Thu Feb 19 2009

His Honour Acting Judge Duck has been reappointed as an acting judge of the District Court of New South Wales and as a member of the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales, effective 1 March 2009 - 28 February 2010.

Magistrate James Edward Garbett (following his retirement as a magistrate on 27 February 2009), Mr John McIntosh and commissioner Inaam Tabbaa have been appointed as acting magistrates and as mining wardens effective 2 March 2009 - 30 June 2009.

19 February 2009