President's Message


Resumption of Jury Trials in the District Court of NSW

As members would be aware from updates provided via In Brief, various courts have recently announced steps to accommodate the easing of Public Health Orders across NSW. Most recently the District Court has today published Practice Note 23 “Resumption of Jury Trials and in person appearances in Judge Alone Trials” which states at paragraph 8 that “The Court encourages the New South Wales Bar Association and the Law Society of New South Wales to support the vaccination of their members who appear in the Court”.

I note that other jurisdictions will require practitioners to be fully vaccinated in order to attend in person hearings, and do strongly encourage members to be fully vaccinated for their own safety as well as to assist in the administration of justice.

We also anticipate that a practical guide for participants attending court will be published by the District Court next week. This document will provide guidance, inter alia, regarding entry into District Court venues and details about Rapid Antigen Screening (RAS) arrangements. Members will be kept informed of developments in this regard.

BarBrief Pilot Program

Next week the Bar Association will commence a limited Pilot of a new service that will enable in-house counsel to provide direct briefs to the Bar on individual advice matters. This service will be provided through BarBrief Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association.

The new service is intended to assist in breaking down barriers to the direct briefing of counsel, and junior counsel in particular, by in house counsel holding practising certificates. One of those barriers relates to the procurement arrangements of organisations and the establishment of BarBrief is aimed at assisting in the payment of barristers in direct briefing matters. The Pilot has been developed in consultation with a number of senior in house counsel, members of the Association and supported by the Association staff.

In the coming days, BarBrief will be approaching a small number of barristers to seek their participation in the Pilot. There will be five Pilot subject area “pools” in the areas of Corporations, Contracts, Criminal, Employment and Regulatory, each formed by a senior silk. Overseeing these developments will be BarBrief Chair (Michael Green SC), Deputy Chair (Tim Castle SC) and myself as directors.

The original five subject area pools were determined based on feedback from in house clients as to the most likely areas of initial need. As the Pilot progresses, further pools may be created based on demand from in house counsel involved in the Pilot.

Members will be kept informed of developments as the Pilot progresses.

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