The National Brief #14

August 2023

President's Message

Colleagues, it is a pleasure to write to you again in relation to the affairs of the Bar nationally.

Cornerstone 2023 conference — 21 - 23 September 2023

The ABA’s Cornerstone conference is now less than one month away. The venue for the conference, at the beachfront Langham hotel resort on the Gold Coast, is a stunning one.

The conference will have a keynote address from the Hon. Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC, and within weeks of the end of her Honour’s distinguished tenure on the High Court of Australia.

I would encourage all members, new and old, to endeavour to attend.

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum — 14 October 2023

Today the Prime Minister, the Hon. Anthony Albanese MP, announced that the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum will be held on 14 October 2023.

The referendum is a watershed moment in history.

Lawyers generally, and members of the Bar perhaps especially, are uniquely placed to contribute to the discussion about how a constitutionally entrenched Indigenous Voice to Parliament might operate if approved at the referendum.

I would encourage each of you to engage in that discussion, and in particular, to lead by example in demonstrating that contestable points of view can be the subject of robust yet courteous discussion.

The announcement of the retirement of the Hon. Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC and the appointments of the Hon. Justice Stephen Gageler AC as Chief Justice and the Hon. Justice Robert Beech-Jones as a Justice of the High Court of Australia

Appointments and retirements to our apex court are always a matter of great significance, all the more so when it involves the retirement and appointment of a Chief Justice.

It was my privilege on behalf of all Australian barristers to congratulate Justice Gageler on the announcement of his appointment as Australia’s next Chief Justice of the High Court and Justice Robert Beech-Jones as a Justice of that court.

Similarly, it was a privilege to acknowledge, again, the distinguished service that the Hon. Chief Justice Susan Kiefel has given not only as Chief Justice and earlier as a Justice of the High Court of Australia, but indeed, what has been a generation of judicial service by her Honour across all of the Supreme Court of Queensland, the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of Australia.

Cost of access to authorised law reports

As I reported in the last edition, steps are being taken to try and improve cost-effective access to the authorised reports. Those discussions with the legal publishers are progressing. I hope to have something more definitive to report when next I write to you. I am grateful for the assistance of our colleague Róisín Annesley KC, Vice-President of the ABA, in this endeavour.

CPD Program — Best Practice Guidelines

The first of the Best Practice Guidelines which has been promulgated is appearing on the ABA website as this newsletter is being distributed. It deals with the professional obligations around ex parte applications. Other such guidelines are in the process of being prepared.

Free Trade Agreement

I would invite you to read with interest what has been written by our colleague, Dominic Toomey SC, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Australian Bar Association, on the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement.  

I wish you all well as we each embark on the last, typically busy, third of the year.


Cornerstone 2023: The ABA National Conference





The 2023 ABA Conference ‘CORNERSTONE 2023’ will be held between 21-23 September at the glorious beachfront Langham Hotel on the Gold Coast.

This conference will offer an exciting and engaging program, featuring panel discussions, addresses and social events.

Registrations are now open.

Among the high-profile panellists and speakers confirmed to attend:

  • The Hon Susan Kiefel AC – Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
  • The Hon Justice Alstergren AO KC – Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
  • The Hon. Andrew Bell – Chief Justice of NSW
  • Geoffrey Robertson KC, and many more.

Other luminaries from the field of law, government and high-profile public discourse will be added to the schedule of events closer to the start date.

Discussions will revolve around the conference’s theme, the Rule of Law: the very foundation of our nation and its institutions.

The conference will be a great opportunity to network, broaden your understanding of current issues impacting the legal profession, and gain insight as to what the legal fraternity’s foremost identities have to share.

Click here for more information, including registration.



Update on the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

Dominic Toomey SC, Vice-President of the ABA, will provide regular updates on the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA or Agreement) entered into force on 31 May 2023. The relevant provisions for the legal profession, and more particularly the Australian Bars, are contained in Article 10, ‘Professional Services and Recognition of  Professional Qualifications’. ‘Legal services’ are included in the definition of ‘Professional services’.

The introductory language in Article 10.3, which is a statement of objectives, is expressed in terms of the “encouragement” of the development of systems for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and the “facilitation” of trade between the two nations in professional services. Article 10.7 is directed specifically to ‘Legal Services’. It maintains, on the one hand, a party’s right to ‘regulate and supervise’ the supply of legal services ‘in a non-discriminatory manner’, but also provides that a ‘host party’ shall allow a national of the other party, who is professionally qualified and authorised in the other party to practise as a lawyer, to supply services without having to requalify or be authorised to practise as a ‘host party’ lawyer. Importantly for the Bar, however, that obligation does not extend to ‘legal representation services’ in matters or proceedings before administrative agencies, the courts, or other duly constituted official tribunals of a party.

Article 10.8 provides that the parties shall establish a Legal Services Regulatory Dialogue (Dialogue) composed of representatives from the legal professions of each party, whose objectives include the consideration of matters affecting requirements for requalification, directed to the liberalisation of such requirements. Whilst neither the ABA nor any of the individual state Bar Associations is specifically mentioned in the Agreement among the named representatives composing the Dialogue, the ABA President, Peter Dunning KC, has liaised with the Legal Services Council and the Law Council of Australia in order to secure a ‘seat at the table’ for the ABA.

The work of the Dialogue is in its early stages, but is self-evidently significant to the Bar. Input is being sought from the ABA’s constituent Bars concerning the Australian Bar’s position on matters central to the implementation of the Agreement. We will keep members informed on A-UKFTA matters as they develop. 


Australian Arbitration Week – Perth, 9-13 October 2023



The ABA is proud to support Australian Arbitration Week. Australian Arbitration Week 2023 will be held from 9 October 2023 to 13 October 2023, with the ACICA/CIArb Australia International Arbitration Conference on 9 October 2023.

Of particular interest is Resolving Disputes on Major Projects - Lessons Learnt from Recent Arbitration Proceedings, presented by ACICA and the ABA. An experienced panel of speakers will discuss lessons learnt from their involvement in resolving disputes arising on major projects in the region. The discussion will cover issues arising as part of project inception and execution and during dispute management and resolution. Insights from a variety of different perspectives on what worked and what did not and what to look out for will be shared by panel members with the audience, who will also be invited to participate. Register here.

The full calendar of events taking place during Australian Arbitration Week is available here.


FCFCoA News — Updates to the Magellan List

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1) (FCFCOA (Division 1)) and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (FCFCOA (Division 2)) (together, the Courts) have implemented an updated Magellan List definition and criteria, upon recommendation by the Courts’ Family Violence Committee. These updates reflect the Courts’ ongoing commitment to responding appropriately to risk in family law proceedings.

This builds upon a number of initiatives the Courts’ have launched this week, including the Updated Family Violence Plan and Family Violence Best Practice Principles, and three new short films on the  following topics:

What is family violence?

How the voice of the child is heard?

How the Court process works for parenting cases

The updated Family Violence Plan and Family Violence Best Practice Principles are available on the Courts’ website via the following links:

• Family Violence Plan

• Family Violence Best Practice Principles

The Magellan List is a long-standing specialist list designed to ensure that proceedings involving the most vulnerable children and requiring the most resources are appropriately triaged, and dealt with as effectively and efficiently as possible.

From 21 August 2023, the identification of a Magellan matter and criteria for transfer in to the Magellan List will require notifications or allegations of the following (generally within the preceding 12-month period):

(a) sexual abuse of a child; and/or

(b) serious physical abuse of a child; and/or

(c) fresh allegations of historical sexual or physical abuse of a child which had never previously been disclosed; and/or

(d) activity by a party to the proceedings or a relevant adult (such as a step parent or relative) which:

i. poses a risk of direct or indirect sexual abuse to the child, including activity directed towards children who are the subject of the proceedings or any other child/ren; and/or

ii. involves an allegation, charge or conviction for offences related to the production, possession and distribution of Child Exploitation Material (CEM), whether or not the images relate to children the subject of the proceedings; and/or

(e) serious or escalating physical abuse of a subject child of the proceedings.

The Magellan List provides a tightly administered case-management pathway for proceedings involving sexual abuse and/or serious physical abuse of a child, which is supported by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team of Judges, Registrars and Court Child Experts. The Magellan List and updated definition will operate in all Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia registries nationally from 21 August 2023.

Information about the Magellan List can be found on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website here: Magellan List | Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.


Sports Law Conference & Tri-State Football Tournament

The 2023 Tri-State Football (Soccer) Tournament and Sports Law Conference will take place in Victoria on Saturday 16 September 2023.

This is an annual event, held since 2010 (with Covid hiatus in 2020 & 2021), with the venue rotating between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

The morning of Saturday 16 September 2023, will see the Sports Law Conference held over two to three hours. Speakers include the Hon. Justice Melanie Sloss; the Hon. Justice Jack Forrest; his Honour Coroner Simon McGregor and more.

The Tournament involves three games of football (soccer): one between Queensland and Victoria, one between NSW and Victoria and one between Queensland and NSW.

The Tournament is a mixed tournament and is a fabulous occasion on which members of the Bar can join together to participate in a fun social sporting activity and to meet interstate colleagues.

Click here for more information.


In Other News

Around the country

Peter Dunning KC, President of the ABA, attended the ceremonial sitting of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia to welcome the Hon. Justice Emilios Kyrou AO. His speech may be found on the ABA website.

The Queensland Bench and Bar Dinner took place on Friday 10 August. Among the speakers were the Hon. Justice Flanagan of the Supreme Court of Queensland and Peter Dunning KC, President of the ABA.


Dates for the diary

  • 2023 ABA National Conference — 21-23 September 2023
  • Australian Arbitration Week — 9-13 October 2023
  • Asia Pacific Coroners Society Conference 2023 - Truth Telling 2023 — 13-15 November 2023