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Law Institute advocacy

Every Issue

Cite as: (2003) 77(9) LIJ, p.12

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.

Exporting legal services
Law Institute president Bill O’Shea attended a meeting in Canberra in his capacity as a member of the commonwealth Attorney-General’s International Legal Services Advisory Council. A key agenda item was a briefing by Australia’s chief negotiator for the Australia/US free trade agreement Dr Milton Churche on impediments to the export of Australian legal services to the US. The Institute, in conjunction with the Law Council of Australia (LCA), is circulating a questionnaire to a number of Victorian firms seeking comments on this issue. It will be followed by a round table discussion at the Institute involving Dr Churche in which firms will have the opportunity to discuss what they hope to achieve from the opening up of the US market to legal services.

National profession
At a ministerial meeting on insurance issues held in Adelaide on 6 August, all states and territories confirmed their commitment to implementing professional standards legislation on a nationally consistent basis. Institute CEO John Cain earlier met with a state government working party to discuss the progress of the legislation.

Mediation facilities
Mr O’Shea met with the Chief Judge of the County Court Michael Rozenes to discuss the lack of mediation facilities at the Court. Practitioners have described the existing situation as unsatisfactory, with mediation hearings at times conducted in corridors or inside the court foyer. The Institute wants to see the introduction of a designated mediation facility in the Court. The matter will now be taken up with the Department of Justice to explore whether mediation facilities could be made available in the old County Court building pending its renovation. A copy of the letter to Chief Judge Rozenes can be viewed at

Greenhouse gas submission
The Institute’s Young Lawyers’ Section has prepared a submission to the Energy Greenhouse Abatement Project in response to the state government consultation paper titled The Greenhouse Challenge for Energy. In the submission it is argued that the government should adopt a similar approach to that taken by the NSW government in an attempt to address the pressing issue of global warming. In NSW, electricity retailers, generators and large electricity customers are subject to a benchmark or target which must result in a 5 per cent capita reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1989/90 levels by 2007. A copy of the submission can be viewed at

Immigration lawyers
Mr O’Shea participated in the launch of the Immigration Lawyers Association of Australasia which consists of practising migration agent lawyers and human rights lawyers. As part of advocacy work through the Institute, the Migration Agents Registration Authority has agreed to waiver the requirement that migration agents must have direct access to a law library in their own offices in order to maintain registration as a migration agent. As a result of the change, migration lawyers working in the CBD will instead be able to use the Institute’s library.

Law Council
Mr O’Shea and Mr Cain attended an LCA meeting in Canberra on 25 July to discuss a range of issues including the national profession project, section membership and advocacy work by the legal profession on the case of David Hicks.

David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib
Mr O’Shea has spoken out in the media about the David Hicks case and raised the possibility that he could have been charged under existing Australian laws. The LCA has written an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard and all members of Parliament urging, among other things, the need for an independent observer to oversee any hearings involving Guantanamo Bay detainees David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. The letter, signed by the LCA along with the Institute, other law societies and Bar associations, expressed “deep and widespread concern” at the circumstances under which Mr Hicks and Mr Habib are being detained. A copy of the letter can be viewed at

Red Cross
After a series of discussions, the Institute has agreed to help the Red Cross to promote organ donation. Solicitors may be able to mention that there is a register and provide information about it when talking to their clients. For further information, go the Red Cross website at

Monash law faculty
As a board member of the Monash law faculty, Mr O’Shea attended a meeting at their new premises in Bourke Street, Melbourne. A range of issues was discussed, including a proposal that it be used as an alternative location for hosting continuing legal education events for practitioners.

Meeting with opposition
Mr O’Shea and Mr Cain attended an extensive briefing with the shadow Attorney-General Andrew McIntosh and shadow Treasurer Robert Clarke. They discussed a range of issues including professional standards legislation, legal aid, tort law reform and the need for a Children and Young Person’s Commission. Mr McIntosh expressed an interest in attending country law association meetings in the future.

Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence
Mr O’Shea met with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships 2003. Feedback has been sought from practitioners about the awards that are designed to recognise excellence in partnerships between business and the community. State and territory winners will be announced in late October and national award winners will be announced by Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney in December. Each award- winning partnership will win $10,000 for the community partner. For more information, go to or phone 1800 102 012.

Meeting with Chief Justice
Mr O’Shea and the Victorian Bar Council chair Jack Rush QC met with Chief Justice John Harber Phillips to discuss the appointment of senior attorneys and senior counsel. A working party has been formed of Institute Council members to consider the nomination process of senior attorneys who are non-advocate solicitors.

Bar breakfast
The Victorian Bar equality of opportunity model briefing policy and the review of the Legal Practice Act 1996 were canvassed during a regular meeting with the Bar Council. The proposal by Attorney-General Rob Hulls for a night court and early morning sittings were also discussed, along with the appointment of senior counsel and the adoption of the Uniform Evidence Act.

Victoria Law Foundation
Mr O’Shea attended a regular meeting of the Victoria Law Foundation where a number of issues were raised including the budget for 2003/04 and the predicted move of the law body to new premises.

LIV and the media

President’s Luncheon
Judge Jennifer Coate supports calls for a Children and Young Person’s Commission
17 July Herald Sun, The Age, AAP
Solicitors solicit
LIV responds to call for “solicitors” to be called lawyers
21 July The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC radio
Jaidyn Leskie
LIV discusses the Jaidyn Leskie case
22 July 3AK
Brothel laws
LIV discusses illegal brothels
22 July Waverley Leader
Online courses
LIV calls for online courses for admission training
25 July Lawyers Weekly
Legal regulation
LIV responds to announcement on regulation of legal profession
25 July The Age, Australian Financial Review, Herald Sun
26 July The Age, Ballarat Courier
1 August Australian Financial Review, Lawyers Weekly
Tax Office
LIV cites privacy concerns over request for contact details
29 July The Age
Body corporate laws
LIV calls for review of body corporate laws
29 July 3AK
3 August Sunday Herald Sun
4 August ABC news
6 August Melbourne Times
David Hicks
LIV examines David Hicks case
4 August ABC radio (PM program)
Family law
LIV comments on proposed family law changes
4 August The Age, 3AK
Taxing time
LIV examines tax probe on lawyers
6 August Herald Sun
Drink driver
LIV discusses drink driver caught nine times
6 August 3AW (Breakfast program)

PAUL CONROY is the Institute’s media adviser. He is also available to help members with particular media issues and can be contacted on 9607 9373 or


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