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13 September, 2009  
Goings On ...

UPDATE ... Exciting new selection process sees magistrate elevated to Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land to replace The Red Slice … Slow moving turtle trying to protect soft underbelly of Melbourne clerks

imageNews to hand from Taswegia is that Magistrate Helen Wood will replace Pierre Slicer on the Tas Supremes.

The Slice is one of the few members of the Communist Party to reach the dizzy heights of the judiciary in Australia – an achievement that is unlikely to be repeated too quickly.

Wood had been a magistrate since she was about 30 and is regarded by curmudgeons as being a bit of a softie.

One of her protegees was Damian Bugg, formerly of Tasmanian and Commonwealth DPP fame.

Woodlet was Crown Counsel in the DPP’s office when she came under Bugger’s wing.

Happily, the old DPP was on the interview panel for the Supreme Court vacancy, along with Lisa Hutton (pic), secretary imageof the Justice Department, who came in for a spanking from the Legislative Council committee investigating the appointmentsgate shenanigans.

Another protegee was Ken Read, now at Malthouse Chambers, but prior to that a partner at Jennings Elliott, where Wood worked as a solicitor.

Read brought special insights to the selection process because he too was on the interview panel.

Wood cut a fine figure dishing out the criminal law as a maggie, but she may have to borrow Virginia Bell’s copy of Estopple in a Nutshell to do justice to her perch on the Supremes.

Peter Tree, leader of the bar n’ grill, will just have to be philosophical about this development, as will the other applicant – Associate Justice Stephen Holt.

Sadly, the crits about Justice Shan Tennant, another former magisterial elevation of female persuasion, are not warm.

* * *

Further north in Melbourne the saga of the barristers’ clerks continues. See previous missive.

Overnight (Thursday/Friday Sept. 10-11) saw a miniscule shift by VicBar.

Lyus LeGal and Barristers Logistics, the clerking service owned by Norman O’Bryan SC, are trying to crack the carapace of the protected clerking crustacean.

imageNorm (pic) established Barristers Logistics to inject a bit of vigour into Melbourne’s creaking cartel.

In much the same spirit he also established new sets of chambers to provide badly needed alternatives to VicBar’s badged provider, Barristers Chambers Ltd.

Belinda Lyus’ Lyus LeGal is a Sydney based clerk with a list of well credentialled barristers seeking to infiltrate the Yarraside market.

O’Bryan has been firing off stiff emails to chief barman Stephen Hare and club president Lord Digby requesting that Barristers Logistics and its general manager Terry Hawker be able to operate competitively with the 13 specially anointed “licensed” clerks.

This from O’Bryan to Hare on September 8:

“Four days later I have had no response whatsoever from the Victorian Bar to my request last week that Terry Hawker be ‘licensed’ and able to compete on a level playing field with all other clerks. The Victorian Bar website continues its recent misleading and deceptive representations about the status of barristers’ clerks in Victoria.

Would the bar prefer that the legality and propriety of its recent antics be tested in court? That can easily be arranged.

In lieu of an application for pre-action discovery, I ask the bar to send me copies of the licence agreements signed by each of the persons who are identified on the bar’s website as ‘licensed clerks’ and the correspondence or other communications between the bar and each of those persons concerning their licenses.

If I do not receive these documents by the end of this week [Friday Sept. 11] I will commence proceedings for pre-action discovery and produce this email on the question of costs.”

The response is barely noticeable. The bar has moved the two non-establishment clerking services into a single list of clerks on VicBar’s website.

That’s about as radical as it gets.

Those identified with # are the 13 clerks who are “licensed and approved”.

Barristers Logistics is merely an approved clerk, since it still has no “agreement”. Apparently that means it does not “comply with the terms of all rules, rulings, directions and regulations … made by the bar council”.

It can, however, receive trust money.

Lyus Legal is on the list but remains unlicensed and unapproved.

Lord Digby and the boys are putting their hands up, Canute-like, to stop the incoming tide.

Looks like it’s off to court with bayonets and tin helmets.