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LIV advocacy

Every Issue

Cite as: (2004) 78(1-2) LIJ, p. 18

To represent the interests of members and the wider community, the Law Institute actively seeks to influence policy and legislation through lobbying and submissions to government, the courts and other bodies.

Supreme Court

New Law Institute president Chris Dale, CEO John Cain and immediate past president Bill O’Shea met with new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria Marilyn Warren. They discussed the formation of small groups of senior practitioners to provide an overview of the Court and make recommendations on how it might be improved. The groups would be across the commercial, criminal and common law areas, with the first meeting with Chief Justice Warren due this month. Chief Justice Warren also endorsed the Court’s commitment to the Institute’s “Life in the Law” program, which involves young solicitors meeting regularly with judges.

Voice for the young

The Institute has written to more than 100 prominent Victorians seeking support for a Children and Young Person’s Commission. The petition, when it is completed, will be published in the media and will add weight to the call for a properly-constituted Commission. This year, the Institute will continue to campaign for a Commission, with a model Bill already drafted. Further meetings with government ministers, the opposition and stakeholders are planned.

New Secretary-General

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has begun the process of appointing a new Secretary-General after the resignation of current Secretary-General Michael Lavarch. Mr Cain is on the selection panel to find a replacement. Mr Lavarch is leaving the LCA to take up an appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology. He will remain with the LCA until late next month.

Articles

Mr Dale, Mr Cain and Mr O’Shea attended a meeting at the Leo Cussen Institute to discuss the existing practical legal training course. It followed a forum held at the Institute last December which emphasised the value of “good articles” as the best possible form of training. State Attorney-General Rob Hulls has written to the Institute seeking feedback about the lack of available practical legal training courses for graduates and the shortage of positions for articled clerks. Mr Hulls is also considering whether to expand existing practical legal training courses to enable the Council of Legal Education to accredit courses offered by a broader range of service providers.

New apprenticeship contract

The Institute, through its Workplace Relations Section, has written to the Australian National Training Authority which is reviewing the new apprenticeship and traineeship contract. The Institute said the revised training contract did not provide information to new apprentices about the length of the probationary period or the fact that the contract can be terminated during the period. The Institute has recommended a more comprehensive probationary period for the benefit of both employers and apprentices. The letter can be viewed at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs/2003/20031218apprent.pdf.

International commercial mediation

Mr Cain attended a meeting with Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) president Michael Pryles and a representative from the Australian Commercial Disputes Centre (ACDC). The meeting discussed the procedures for the operation of the joint ACICA/ ACDC secretariat, with the Institute agreeing to accommodate its operations. Senior research solicitor at the Institute Simon French will coordinate the secretariat.

Body corporate laws

The Institute has made a submission to the state government’s review of body corporate laws in Victoria being carried out by ALP Upper House MP Helen Buckingham. The submission argues in favour of a guarantee fund that would impose an annual levy on each body corporate, providing protection against defalcation and dishonesty by those responsible for the funds. The submission also recommends the setting up of a statewide network of mediators, composed of LIV accredited mediation specialists. As a result of the Institute’s campaign, the state government agreed to the review last year and is due to deliver its report early this year. A copy of the submission can be viewed at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs.

Occupational health and safety submission

The Institute, through its Workplace Relations Section Occupational Health and Safety Committee, has made a submission in response to the Occupational Health and Safety Act review discussion paper prepared by Chris Maxwell QC. The submission says that the courts have recognised the importance of the duty imposed on employers to keep the workplace as safe as possible. The law has recognised that the duties are “administered by human beings and as such, they are fallible and situations and dangers do arise which cannot be foreseen or guarded against”. A copy of the submission is available at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs.

Migration litigation submission

The Institute has made a submission to federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock in response to his review of migration litigation. The Institute does not see on what basis it could be constitutional to further reduce the grounds of review and, in any event, such a step would hardly be consistent with the expressed government desire to provide a fair hearing process. The submission adds that it is not appropriate for the government to interfere with fee rules, particularly those related to waivers. A copy of the submission can be viewed at http://www.liv.asn.au/news/pro_issues/livsubs.

Meeting with the opposition

Mr Dale and Mr Cain met with shadow state Attorney-General Andrew McIntosh to discuss a wide range of legal issues, from professional standards legislation to the future direction of the Supreme Court. The Institute will continue its regular meetings with the opposition this year.

Dean of Law School

Institute representatives met with Dean of La Trobe University’s Law School Oliver Mendelsohn to discuss whether solicitors with specialist qualifications should be able to obtain exemptions for Masters of Law subjects.

LIV and the media

New president
LIV elects new president Chris Dale
4 December Australian Financial Review

Double jeopardy
LIV examines review of double jeopardy laws
5 December 3AK

Bushfires
LIV discusses legal responsibilities during the fire season
10 December ABC regional radio

Human rights
LIV promotes need for a Bill of Rights
10 December The Age

Legal Profession Tribunal
LIV comments about tribunal case
12 December Australian Financial Review

Children’s Commission

LIV promotes the need for a Commission
12 December ABC radio, Radio National, 4AAA radio (Brisbane)
31 December JJJ, ABC radio
1 January 3AW

Culpable driving
LIV discusses new criminal charge of dangerous driving causing death
15 December The Age
27 December Herald Sun

Charity worker
LIV condemns insurance premiums that stopped 9-year-old charity worker from busking
19 December Today Tonight (Channel 7)

Adverse possession
LIV discusses laws of adverse possession
24 December Geelong Times

Family law
LIV examines report on family law and child custody
30 December ABC radio

Legal Handbook
LIV promotes new Legal Handbook
6 January 3AK

Missing documents
LIV warns about importance of retaining legal documents
9 January 3AW
10 January Herald Sun

advocacy@liv.asn.au

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