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Appointment to the District Court

Thu Feb 24 2011

Attorney General John Hatzistergos today announced the appointment of Clive Jeffreys as a judge of the District Court of NSW. Mr Jeffreys will be sworn in as a judge on Tuesday, 15 March 2011. Learn more>

24 February 2011

Tonight's CPD Seminar Postponed: Pre-Litigation Requirements in NSW – the New Regime

Thu Feb 24 2011

A CPD seminar entitled ‘Pre-Litigation Requirements in NSW – the New Regime’ was due to be held in the Bar Association Common Room on Thursday 3 March 2011. This seminar has now been postponed, and will be rescheduled once the date of proclamation of Part 2A of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 is fixed. Once a new date for the seminar has been set, details will be advertised in In Brief.

3 March 2011

An invitation to the Dow Oration

Wed Feb 23 2011

Members are invited to an oration by the Hon Justice Unity Dow on "The Importance of Economic Rights in the Law: A Perspective from Botswana", to be held on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 5.00pm in the Banco Court. The event will be chaired by the Hon Justice Margaret Beazley AO. Registration is free, but please RSVP for catering purposes. Learn more>

1 March 2011

Thresholds and the Commonwealth Counsel Rate Process

Wed Feb 23 2011

On 11 February 2011 the Australian Financial Review published an article entitled "Win for barristers, loss for solicitors".� The article referred to an amendment to the Legal Services Directions 2005, made on 9 February, which has increased the threshold rates for counsel.

The Commonwealth Attorney General's Department has advised In Brief that there has been no change to the Commonwealth Counsel Rate process. The enactment of this legislative instrument does not create an automatic increase in barristers rates. Instead, it raises the threshold rates for which barristers are required to gain Office of Legal Services Coordination (OLSC) approval. Previously these rates were $1,600 per day for junior counsel, and $2,400 per day for senior counsel. The new thresholds are now $2,300 per day for junior counsel and $3,500 per day for senior counsel.

All counsel intending to do Commonwealth work are still required to gain initial approval from OLSC, and an approved rate will be provided as per normal. Appendix D of the Legal Services Directions 2005 then stipulate that approved counsel wishing to be paid above a threshold amount require subsequent OLSC approval. There has therefore been no change to the engagement of counsel policy, rather, threshold rates have been raised to account for market rates changing since 2000 when the previous thresholds were set.

In practice however, agencies commonly seek OLSC guidance and approval on what rate should be given to a particular counsel, even if the rate remains underneath the threshold. It is then up to the agency to utilise this recommendation as they see fit.� Also, OLSC will not approve an application over the threshold rate if it is not justified� based on their data and processes.

This will allow counsel, with an approved Commonwealth rate, to negotiate a different rate with agencies for a particular brief up to the threshold limit ($2300 JCs & $3500 SCs) without further approval from OLSC.� An application to OLSC is recommended where an agency and counsel cannot agree on a suitable rate for a brief. Please note that these negotiated rates do not supersede a counsel’s approved ongoing rate.� Changes to ongoing rates must still be approved by OLSC. �

In addition, an application to OLSC is still required where:

  • counsel is new to Commonwealth work and does not have an approved Commonwealth rate; and

  • counsel is seeking an ongoing or one-off rate above the threshold amounts.

For further information, e-mail OLSC at olsc@ag.gov.au

23 February 2011

NSW Bar FC is scouting for talent

Wed Feb 23 2011

Members who wish to forget the recent Ashes series can distract themselves by signing up for NSW Bar FC, which will take to the field in the Domain Soccer League (lunchtime competition), commencing in April 2011. All members, be they barristers or judges, are welcome to participate (provided you have no contractual commitments to an A-League club).

For the benefit of those whose decision to join or not to join may be in the balance, here are a few salient points:

  • the season commences on 18 April 2011 and the finals series concludes on 2 September 2011 (the regular season runs for about 12 weeks (weather permitting);
  • all games are played at The Domain and usually at 1.15pm;
  • mixed teams of 11 a side (on the field) and a maximum of 15 (unlimited substitutes);
  • playing positions are allocated on a first in best dressed basis;
  • (through the generosity of our major sponsor Suncorp) jerseys are supplied with shorts and socks available to purchase at a small cost;
  • there is no expectation that a person play every week; and

  • the emphasis is on fun, fitness and collegiality.

The Annual Tri-States Challenge Cup (against teams from the bars of Qld and Victoria) will be held at Southport on the weekend of 9-11 September 2011. The games are expected to be combined with a CLE and conference dinner. Details will follow.

To join Bar FC or for more information, contact Anthony Lo Surdo (9223 3181 or losurdo@12thfloor.com.au) or John Harris (9232 2722 or johnharris@4wentworth.com.au).�

23 February 2011

Wanted! Mentors for the Indigenous Law Students Program

Tue Feb 22 2011

The Indigenous Barristers Trust is currently seeking mentors for its Mentoring Indigenous Law Students Program. The purpose of this mentoring program is to provide opportunities for barristers to share their wealth of professional and life experiences with New South Wales Indigenous law students. If you are interested in being a mentor, please fill in the registration form and send it to jdinihan@nswbar.asn.au with details of your practice and any relevant activities or hobbies so that we can pair you with a student with similar interests. We can then send you further information about the program.

22 February 2011

Web watch: the J Willard Hurst Collection

Tue Feb 22 2011

Devotees of legal history might be interested in The J Willard Hurst Collection, a web site maintained by the University of Wisconsin’s Law Library. It gathers over sixty years of American legal economic history materials by Mr Hurst, described on the home page as "the father of American legal history."� The purpose of the site is to provide "insight into the evolution of Hurst’s view of legal history and his role in developing a community for legal historians."�

22 February 2011

IT Essentials for Litigation (ADVERTISEMENT)

Tue Feb 22 2011

Technology is increasingly prevalent in litigation.� Things are not made easier by cost-sensitive clients, Rocket-dockets, e-Registrars, Technology Practice Notes, rapidly changing technologies and tech-savvy adversaries.� They create new challenges, but also new opportunities for the way disputes, and in particular, discovery are managed. Ralph Losey has even gone so far as to question the competency of US colleagues without such skills.

To assist those not totally comfortable with all things IT, Sinch has developed a workshop to quickly get you up to speed … painlessly. IT Essentials for Litigation (ITE4L) offers a solid grounding in the basics, and presumes no IT knowledge. Simon Lewis LL.B, your workshop leader, pioneered IT in litigation, including part of the Singapore Judiciaryʼs Courtroom of the Future.

Under his guidance, ITE4L will help you overcome the challenges and intricacies involved with electronically stored information, relevant to the Practice Notes.

It will also equip you with the knowledge to enhance your capabilities, while making your working life easier. You will learn how to benefit from social media, cloud computing, and iPhones/iPads etc.

More "traditional" litigation tools such as databases, search, outliners, scanning/imaging, along with tools and methods to help with case research, analysis, and presentation are also covered.

So if you have been more involved with the law, than with IT, book now to avoid disappointment as classes are small to allow personalisation (max 10). Cost: $495 per person.

If you miss the workshop on Saturday, 26 March 2011, 9:30 to 5:30, check at www.sinch.com.au or call 02-97184076 or email simon@sinch.com.au for other dates.

10 March 2011

TONIGHT: Tuesday 1 March 2011 - Ethics, Etiquette and Conduct

Mon Feb 21 2011

This seminar has been convened by the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society of NSW. The seminar is free of charge and members of both organisations are welcome to attend - registration is not required. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to secure a seat. The panel of speakers will include the Hon Justice P A Bergin, Tom Bathurst QC (president of the NSW Bar Association) and Stuart Westgarth (president of NSW Law Society). Chief Justice Spigelman AC will chair the event. Location: Banco Court. 5:15pm - 6:45pm 1.5 CPD points in the Ethics strand. Download a flyer.

1 March 2011

Retirement ceremony for the Hon Justice John Cohen

Mon Feb 21 2011

A ceremonial sitting of the Family Court of Australia will be held in Sydney on Friday, 4 March 2011 to mark the retirement of the Hon Justice John Cohen as a judge of the court. The special sitting will be held at the Family Law Courts Building Sydney, Full Courtroom, Level 7 at 4:30pm. Grahame Richardson SC will speak on behalf of the NSW Bar. Although the judges will not wear wigs, the convention is for counsel to wear theirs (senior counsel to wear full-bottomed wigs).

21 February 2011

Appointments to note: new Qld Supreme Court judge

Fri Feb 18 2011

Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick has announced the appointment of Jean Dalton SC as Queensland's newest Supreme Court judge. The appointment of Ms Dalton would increase the number of permanent Supreme Court judges from 26 to 27.

"Ms Dalton has been a barrister for more than 20 years and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2004," the attorney said.

"She has extensive experience in various fields of law including medical negligence, commercial law, contracts, mining and corporate regulatory matters.� Ms Dalton served as president of the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for three years and most recently has been a member of the Land Court and deputy chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Tribunal", he said.

18 February 2011

Swearing-in ceremony for Magistrate Mary Ryan

Thu Feb 17 2011

A ceremonial sitting of the Local Court will be held on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 9.00am in courtroom 5.2 of the Downing Centre to mark the swearing-in of Mary Ryan as a magistrate. Anne Healy will speak on behalf of the bar.

21 February 2011

Requiem Mass for Brian Ferrari

Wed Feb 16 2011

A Requium Mass will be held for Brian Ferrari on Wednesday, 23 February at 10.00am at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church Mackenzie St, Lavender Bay. It will be followed by a private burial. A wake will be held at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, 33 Peel St Kirribilli (street parking only) between 12.30 and 4.00pm.

21 February 2011

Codification of complicity laws is on the cards

Wed Feb 16 2011

Attorney General John Hatzistergos has given in-principle support to codifying complicity laws, which has been recommended by the NSW Law Reform Commission (LRC) following a three-year investigation. The Bar Association's Criminal Law Committee made submissions to the inquiry. NSWLRC Report 129 (2011) - Complicity - was released today and is available from the commission's web site.

16 February 2011

Part-time employment opportunities wanted for Indigenous law students

Wed Feb 16 2011

As part of the Bar Association's Indigenous Barristers Strategy, all barristers, clerks and chambers are encouraged to identify part-time employment opportunities for 2011 for Indigenous law students. Ideally, this would be for a day or half day a week on a regular basis doing loose-leaf filing, administrative or clerical tasks or research and includes some mentoring and guidance for the student.

This initiative has been highly successful for a number of Indigenous law students and needs the ongoing support of more members of the Bar to ensure its continued success. Contact with the Bar as well as some financial security significantly contributes to the success of the student at their law studies. There are a number of students currently looking for an opportunity.

Please contact Chris Ronalds SC on ronalds@fjc.net.au or 9229 7378 if you have any openings.

**PA Selth Executive Director

16 February 2011**� �

Professional Standards Scheme now recognised in Queensland

Tue Feb 15 2011

The Bar Association's new professional standards scheme, which limits liability for damages to $1.5million, commenced on 1 July 2010 and expires on 30 June 2015. Beginning 17 February 2011, the scheme will be recognised in Queensland, which will join ACT, Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory on the list of jurisdictions which enjoy mutual recognition of professional standards schemes. Learn more>

15 February 2011

Changes to the ACT Bail Act

Tue Feb 15 2011

The ACT Legislative Assembly has passed the Bail Amendment Bill 2010, which will, among other things, enable the Magistrates Court to deal with breaches of Supreme Court bail on days when the Supreme Court is not sitting, such as Saturdays. The bill is the first in a series of planned measures to increase the jurisdiction of the ACT Magistrates Court and reduce backlogs in the Supreme Court.

15 February 2011

Local Court begins trial online protocol for committal matters

Tue Feb 15 2011

Local Court Practice Note No.1 of 2011 was gazetted on 11 February and commences operation today, 15 February 2011. The practice note was issued for the purposes of a pilot programme for committal proceedings heard at Downing Centre Local Court in which the accused person is legally represented. Online Court will initially operate in cases involving the DPP, Legal Aid and/or the Aboriginal Legal Service. After three months, the court will consider extending the programme to include matters where a defendant has private legal representation. View the attorney general's media release>

15 February 2011

Web watch: Victorian Civil Procedure Bench Book

Mon Feb 14 2011

The Judicial College of Victoria has published a new, interactive Bench Book to assist practitioners with the application of the Civil Procedure Act 2010 (Vic). It includes commentary describing the effects of each substantive part of the Act, as well as "scenario-based exercises".

14 February 2011

The role of juries to be reinforced in the ACT

Mon Feb 14 2011

The ACT Government will introduce reforms to the process of election for judge-alone trial to re-affirm the important role of juries in serious criminal trials, according to Attorney General Simon Corbell. The government's bill would require trials of serious offences like murder, manslaughter, culpable driving occasioning death and sexual offences (including child pornography offences), to be heard before a jury. Learn more>

14 February 2011