Congratulations Habeas Chorus Choir
The Law Society is delighted its team Habeas Chorus won the Corporate Choir Challenge held at Hobart’s Federation Concert Hall on 28 June 2021 as a part of this years Festival of Voices.

The Habeas Chorus members are: Kate Mooney SC, Renee Spencer, Kim Heap, Amelia Higgs, Alastair Oxbrough, Pip Monk, Luke Rheinberger, Phoebe McCulloch, Aurora Kostezky, Andrea Schmid, Alinta Robinson-Herbert, Luke Ogden, Adrienne Morton, Kate Cuthbertson,  Lisa Pennington and Oona Fisher

 The Choir is keen to continue singing together and welcomes other members to join in. If you would like to join the choir please contact Pip Monk or Kate Cuthbertson

Practising Certificate Renewals and CPD Obligations
By now most members should have submitted their practising certificate renewal via the Law Society’s new online portal.

Members would be aware that as part of the renewal process it is necessary to make a declaration that a member has or has not complied with the Society’s CPD scheme.

The Society’s CPD scheme is clearly set out in Practice Guideline No. 4 that can be viewed here.

At yesterday’s meeting of Council, we considered whether to grant practising certificates to members who had disclosed a failure to comply with CPD obligations. Almost every one of those applications set out a vague and unsatisfactory explanation about why the applicant had failed to comply.

If you need to disclose a failure to comply, Council of the Law Society recommends you provide the following information:

  • The precise number of CPD points accrued (if any) for the relevant period.
  • The CPD categories the points relate to (see clause 3.2 of PG No. 4).
  • The reason why you have failed to comply. Excuses to the effect that a member “only works a few days a week” or “intended to retire” or that “COVID-19 made compliance difficult” are likely to be viewed as unacceptable.
  • Your plan to rectify the non-compliance over the following 12 months.

Implementation of the Backlog Measures
The Justice Miscellaneous (Court Backlog and Related Matters) Act 2020 brings about significant change for the day-to-day practice of criminal law in the Magistrates and Supreme Courts and commences on 1 July 2021.

There was a CPD event held today to discuss the implementation of the backlog measures on.

We have also published a memo about the implementation of the measures and members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with Practice Direction No 1 of 2021, Preliminary  Proceedings Application List and this Flow chart illustrating preliminary proceedings applications.

Recent Activities
On 19 May 2021 I participated in a meeting with the  and made submissions in relation to remand and sentencing of young offenders in Tasmania. Topics discussed included:

  • Trauma and its effect on young people and how to deliver legal services in a trauma informed way.
  • The benefits of having the Youth Division of the Magistrates’ Court and comparing it with how youth offenders are dealt with in the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
  • Youths in detention on remand due to the absence of family supports, suitable accommodation, work opportunities or structured education.
  • Supported accommodation options with supervision within the community to provide a safe, structured and supportive environment for youth offenders.

On 20 May 2021 I addressed a ceremonial sitting of the Family Court of Australia to farewell Justice Benjamin. On 21 May 2021 I addressed a ceremonial sitting of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to welcome to Judge Taglieri.

The Society hosted a cocktail reception for Attorney-General of Australia and Minister for Industrial Relations Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash on 3 June 2021.

On 4 June 2021 there was a special sitting of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the Launceston Registry to welcome both Judge Taglieri and Judge Turnbull. The Hon Michaelia Cash addressed the Court and welcomed both Judges.

On 25 June 2021 I participated in a quarterly meeting of Law Society Presidents followed by a meeting of the Conference of Law Societies. Topics discussed at the Law Society Presidents meeting included:

  • The development of Bystander Training program on a national basis.
  • Resources relating to discrimination and harassment including, for example, the law Society of NSW Charter for the Advancement of Women.
  • Increasing costs disclosure thresholds.
  • The extension of the emergency pandemic powers of State and Territory governments.

The meeting or Presidents and COLS was followed by a meeting of Law Council of Australia Directors on 26 June 2021. An important outcome of that meeting was agreement reached about revisions to Rule 42 of the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules aimed at:

  • clarifying that Rule 42 applies to conduct that occurs in any setting connected to the practice of law;
  • ensuring professional disciplinary bodies can appropriately respond to matters concerning sexual harassment as either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct; and
  • expressing the profession’s collective view that discrimination and harassment (and, in particular, sexual harassment) are unacceptable conduct when occurring in any situation connected to the practice of law.

Council of the Law Society have resolved to amend our Solicitors’ Conduct Rules in line with the resolution made by the LCA.

Earlier this week I participated in a meeting with Justice Bennett, Judge Taglieri and Judge Turnbull as part of a Remote Access Working Group. The focus of this group is to explore ways to use the Family courts’ pandemic experience to deliver better services to materially disadvantaged litigants in regional and remote areas.

Trevor McKenna

2 July 2021