Friday is definitely law news day. The Australian and the Australian Financial Review both have several pages of law news of a Friday. I might try to bring to the attention of you readers articles of interest from both on a relatively regular basis.
First though, some things from not-Friday. ABC Radio National’s The Law Report has the founder of Crimassist (which I mentioned here) tête-à-tête with the CEO of the Law Institute of Victoria. And The Age reported this week on a VCAT Legal Practice List case where a legal regulator is again alleged to have put illegally obtained evidence to use against a lawyer, this time the lawyer towards the centre of the tax fraud investigation, Project Wickenby. His bid to stay his disciplinary hearing pending what he said were imminent criminal charges failed, and the disciplinary hearing will proceed on Tuesday.
The Times has an article on a House of Lords decision which has put an end to what sounds like a relatively undesirable system in Old Blighty of allowing prosecutors to apply ex parte for orders anonymising witnesses in fear of their life if they testify. Better to preserve the common law rule that a defendant is entitled to confront his accusers than to risk some guilty folk walking free for want of evidence against them. And the English are reviewing their system of no-win no-pay retainers. But unlike in Victoria, where the maximum success fee is 25% of the ‘normal’ fee (whatever that is), in England, a solicitor whose client succeeds can double their ‘normal fee’.
Le Oz has an article on a 34 year old Perth lawyer convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice by convincing a witness not to give evidence against her de facto, who stood charged with conspiracy to commit a violent crime. The Western Australian Legal Practitioners Complaints Committee was meeting yesterday to consider her future as a lawyer. The comparison with that other case involving a 30 something female criminal lawyer and her late gangster de facto may be interesting. It also reports that the inter-state argy-bargy on a uniform national electronic conveyancing system in which Victoria has featured prominently has been resolved. A good thing too: this boring subject was clogging the Legal Affairs pages for too long. Meanwhile, the Conveyancers Act, 2006 (Vic.) came into operation on 1 July 2008. It repeals the bit in the Legal Profession Act, 2004 about conveyancers.
Amazingly, The Fin has a man with a barrister’s wig on its front page with the caption ‘Many barristers have grown frustrated with outdated practices’ as a hook to an article about the not especially newsworthy opening up of a new 18 room barristers chambers. It’s privately run you see, unlike the chambers owned by the Victorian Bar where 63 per cent of Victoria’s barristers are accommodated. I went and checked out Dawson Chambers today. They’re pretty flash, and house several of my mates, but sport views of the next door building. They’re set up by Stephen O’Bryan SC and David Klempfner. Stephen’s brother Norman O’Bryan SC is my landlord at Melbourne Chambers.
The Fin also reports on a NSW law which will make it a criminal offence for causing ‘annoyance or inconvenience’ to participants in World Youth Day. I wonder whether there is a Papal immunity which will immunise his Holiness from prosecution for the inconvenience of the sinfulness of contraception.