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Bar Council business for October 2008

Tue Dec 16 2008

Matters reported elsewhere in In Brief are omitted from this summary of Bar Council business. Bar Council regularly considers requests by the attorney general, the courts and other agencies for advice on proposed legislation. Because that advice is sought on a confidential basis, it is not noted in this summary. Any member interested in a particular matter should contact the executive director for further information.

International Criminal Law Congress

The president indicated that she had attended and chaired a session at the congress, as well as attending the congress dinner.

Farewell to Justice Catherine Branson of the Federal Court

The president advised that she had spoken at the farewell ceremony for the Honourable Justice Catherine Branson.

Attendance at Sydney West Trial Court Complex, Parramatta

The president advised that she and the director, law reform and public affairs had visited the Parramatta trial court complex to inspect an example of the “flexible dock” in one of the courtrooms, accompanied by Richard Button SC, a public defender. The Bar Association had previously raised concerns with the attorney general in relation to the glass security dock used in the ongoing terrorism trial at that court, on the basis that it could create perceptions of guilt among jurors and that it hindered free communication between the accused and their legal representatives. The president indicated that further consideration would be given to the effect of flexible docks on the right of an accused to a fair trial.

Senior counsel scroll ceremony

The president advised that she and a number of bar councillors had attended the presentation of the scrolls to the new silks in the Common Room on 17 October 2008.

Meetings with silk applicants for silk � The president, the senior vice president and Mark Ierace SC have to date met with 10 of the unsuccessful applicants. The meetings will continue over the next month.

Judicial drinks

The president noted that the annual drinks with the judiciary had been held in the Common Room. The evening was a most enjoyable occasion; a number of judicial officers had expressed their appreciation for the decision to hold the event in the Bar Common Room.

Human Rights Committee submission - review of Commonwealth and New South Wales counter-terrorism laws

The council considered the paper prepared by the Human Rights Committee, and resolved that the paper be provided to the Commonwealth and New South Wales attorneys-general with a covering letter expressing the council’s concern that the provisions of Australian anti-terrorism legislation identified in the paper appear to be inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations.

It was further resolved that the Bar Council indicate to the Commonwealth and New South Wales attorneys-general its willingness to participate and contribute to any review of that legislation.

It was further resolved that the Human Rights Committee submission be provided to the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Bar Association for consideration.

Federal charter of human rights

The president advised that she had asked the Human Rights Committee for more detail on the rationale for that committee’s recommendation that a court declaration that a law was incompatible with rights protected under the charter should require a response from parliament, as opposed to invalidating the law. The president indicated that the issues would be taken to the discussion on this issue at the next meeting of the directors of the Law Council of Australia.

The president spoke of the address to be given by Lord Bingham on 11 December 2008 in the Banco Court.� The event is being co-hosted by the NSW Bar Association to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Farewell to outgoing bar councillors

The president noted that this would be the last meeting of the Bar Council before the election of the 2009 Bar Council. She thanked all members of the Bar Council for their hard work and dedication over the last year. The president gave particular thanks to those councillors who had indicated that they will not be standing for re-election in 2009.

On behalf of the Bar Council, the senior vice president expressed his thanks to the president for her dedication and commitment to the work of the Bar Council and the association throughout the year. On behalf of the council, he also expressed his gratitude for the work done by the executive director, the director law reform and public affairs and all association staff over the past twelve months. The treasurer added his particular thanks for the support and assistance he had received from the finance manager.

16 December 2008

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