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30 August, 2007  
Goings on ...

NSW Law Society rushes for legal advice as president departs … Dick Conti upstages Cole v Whitfield ... QLS unveils its Bond girl, new accounting “transparency” and a gruelling Paris conference … Stephen Archer sighted at lunch

imageNo one can remember when a President of the NSW Law Society failed to serve a full term.

Now president Geoff Dunlevy is to leave the society’s Phillip Street HQ on September 17, with more than three months unserved, to become a Magistrate.

It doesn’t get much more exciting than dispensing justice from the bench of the Local Court and being 34-years of age Dunlevy can look forward to at least 30 years of PCA and speeding offences.

What is curious is that he would have had to apply for the job, as the positions were advertised over three months ago. Why apply in the middle of the term in your dream job, particularly since there was so much heartache getting there?

You’d think that it wouldn’t be beyond the wit of the society and the government to have delayed the appointment till January 1, when Dunlevy’s stint as president would normally end.

Now everyone is racing for legal advice. Will the senior vice-president Hugh Macken step-in for three months or will he do 15 months? Opinions differ and unless there is clarity it will all head to court.

My solution is to install Commodore June McPhie in the job, for life.

* * *

A swell Federal Court farewell for Dick Conti on August 17.

The unseen centrepiece of the proceedings turned out to be the retiring judge’s Hungarian Vizsla, a pooch named Denning, to whom constant reference was made.

imageThe standout address came from Anna Katzmann (pic), vice president of the NSW Bar n’ Grill. She’d done her research:

“Apart from one migration case where a dentist from one of the smaller republics of the former USSR complained about the cancellation of his visa after a dog bite had delayed his arrival in Australia I can find no case in which your Honour’s knowledge and love of dogs has been of any assistance in your judicial work.”

Such was the close attachment between judge and dog that Conti successfully managed to avoid circuit work; so much so that around the court he was known as “The Platypus” – a protected species.

Conti held a position of considerable importance in the judicial firmament, that of chairman of the Rugby League Judiciary – a job long coveted by Ms Katzmann. Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason was to discover just how important after the High Court handed down its landmark findings in Cole v Whitfield.

He passed a newsagent with a billboard outside that screamed, “Judiciary Hands Down Landmark Decision”.

Sir Tony was fascinated to see the tabloid take on this important s.92 case and he stepped inside the buy the paper.

To his considerable amazement the story concerned one of Conti’s rulings in an eye-gouging case.

* * *

imageProctologist, the Queensland Law Society’s official organ, welcomed the new president Megan Mahon with a sizzling cover shot and a three-page spread inside.

Readers will recall Megan’s performance at last year’s QLS AGM (see Sir Terence O’Rort’s report) when the society’s accounts were in the spotlight and the explanations for expenditure blowouts were long and rubbery.

QLS PR man Russell Grenning had the job of penning Megan’s profile for the organ and came up with the cheesy idea that she is the “007 Bond Girl” (it’s 2007 and she went to Bond Uni – geddit?).

Anyway, it was an opportunity for Meegs to dispel any suggestion that she is an out-and-out “feminist”, which in Queensland is something akin to being a commie. “I’m not in the business of frightening the horses just to create an effect,” she explained.

As Grenning put it:

“On paper, Megan Mahon might look somewhat of a feminist to the crusty old rear-guard, but that would be way too simplistic and even dishonest.”

Thank God that’s cleared-up.

Grenning says that: “007 has been a big year for Megan Mahon – and is about to get a whole lot bigger.”

You have been warned.

* * *

Brisbane legal warrior Lex MacGillivray has been plugging away at the QLS ramparts and seems to have won a smallish, but important, victory.

In the wake of last year’s upheaval over the annual QLS accounts he’s been pressing all and sundry, including Attorney General Rise n’ Shine, to allow members more time to examine the figures prior to theAGM.

Last year 80 pages of the 2005-2006 figures appeared on the QLS web site six business days before the AGM and a further five pages were posted one day before, which included details of the Dreamworld extravaganza. On arrival at the meeting members were given a meaty bundle of 183 pages.

Now Meegs has told Lex that financial statements and reports from the Auditor General will be on the society’s web site by October 2 , that the annual report will be online by October 5 and that the AGM will now be held on November 15, not October 27.

If, and it’s a big if, the actual detailed accounts, as opposed to some global figures, are released at that time then it gives an unprecedented six entire weeks for the devotees to decipher the numbers and work out the extent of the rubber.

* * *

One more Queensland morsel to note – namely the important QLS conference entitled European Perspectives.

It’s being held in Paris at the Hotel Concord La Fayette between October 17 and 19 – coincidentally the very moment of the rugby world cup finals.

It rivals the tax detectability of the “Maritime Law” conferences that members of the QLS used to attend aboard the Hong Kong ferry.

Word has it that some poor brute from the QLS was dispatched to reconnoiter the purlieus of Paris and check out the facilities.

* * *

imageSighted scoffing his lunch, with two attractive companions at the Surry Hills eatery Two Good Eggs, none other than the thrice bankrupted, tax recalcitrant, unsuccessful defamation plaintiff and former adornment of the Sydney bar, Stephen Archer (pic).

He’s looking marginally slimmer and less ruddy of complexion – but still alluringly cherubic in my book.