President's Message


It has been just over a week since the NSW Government announced a fourteen day lockdown for the Greater Sydney area.

Reports indicate that on the whole the courts and the profession have smoothly returned to the approaches taken last year at the height of the pandemic regarding remote and safe socially distanced in person hearings. I would encourage members to continue to work effectively within the current restraints, and, if there are issues with technology and remote hearings, to take advantage of the Association’s Innovation and Technology Committee’s technical support facility at

In the event that any particular problems arise, the Association is happy to raise particular concerns with Heads of Jurisdiction on your behalf. In these circumstances you can contact the Association’s Deputy Executive Director Alastair McConnachie at who will refer these concerns to members of the Bar Council Executive to raise on your behalf.

The Association has reviewed its in person and remote hearing protocols, and I encourage members to take the time to familiarise themselves with their contents.

In circumstances where proceedings are being conducted by AVL including livestreaming, practitioners should be aware of ss 9, 9A and 9B of the Court Security Act 2005 (NSW), which provide for offences relating to the unauthorised recording, transmission and distribution of court proceedings. Similar orders may be made by, for example, the Federal Court pursuant to the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth).

In addition to social distancing and masking requirements during in person hearings, inside court buildings and while queuing outside, I should again remind members regarding proper etiquette in remote hearings, which in some jurisdictions are being livestreamed.

Care needs to be taken to ensure that the same high standards of professionalism that apply in a real court room are applied to the virtual. Merely because members are conducting a hearing from the informal environment of the home, or from chambers, does not mean that informality can make its way into the conduct of the virtual hearing.

I also encourage you to pay attention to your own physical and mental health – while it is convenient for some members to work safely from home, others will find they will need to work from chambers and extra care needs to be taken by those who are travelling to work or court. As always, barristers who are in need of confidential assistance and support are encouraged to contact BarCare. The Bar Association is here to assist members with personal or professional difficulties that they may be experiencing in this challenging period, including financial strains. Hardship applications can be made to the Barristers Benevolent Fund.

In that regard, I also note that the NSW Government has announced new grants packages for businesses and people across NSW impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions, most relevantly the Small Business COVID-19 Support Grant which may have limited application for some members who have experienced a decline in turnover since the onset of the pandemic.

The main features of the Small Business COVID-19 Support Grant are:

• in order to qualify for the grant, members would need to compare their turnover in a minimum two week period since lockdown began to a two week period in June and/or July 2019 - the grant is $5000, $7,000 or $10,000 depending on the extent of decline in turnover (30%, 50% or 70%);

• the grant must be spent on business expenses;

• an annual turnover of more than $75,000 as at 1 June 2021 is needed to qualify.

The application process will go live in late July via Service NSW. I would emphasise however that members must take into account their own circumstances and seek their own specific advice as required.

Further details are available here.

The Association will continue to keep members informed of COVID-related developments over the coming days.

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