Vale Chris Larkins

We are sad to hear of the passing of Chris Larkins recently.  Chris was an experienced, charming and fair advocate.  He was respected as a prosecutor, particularly on circuit, but also enjoyed a lengthy career appearing for the defence.  Chris was kind and helpful to many young practitioners, and always brought a balanced approach to his role.  Juries thought so, too.  Thanks for your company, Chris.

Vale Ken Oldis

The CBA farewells Ken Oldis, a valued and well-liked colleague who passed away last week after a battle with illness.  Ken was a man of many talents, literary as well as legal.  He was humorous and urbane.  He represented many accused over a lengthy career, and enjoyed the respect of his peers and of the Bench.  Ken, we thank you for your company on the journey.

All prisoners to appear by videolink from 12 Sep 16

The Justice Legislation (Evidence and other Acts) Amendment Act 2016 (‘the amending Act’) will come into effect on 12 September 2016. The amending Act will change the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (‘the Act’) in relation to appearances of an accused being held in custody.

Section 42JA, covers the appearance of an adult accused before the Court. The legislation introduces a presumption that an accused will appear via an AVL for all hearings with the exception of listings outlined in section 42JA(2) and (3). The exceptions relate to the following hearings:

  • An inquiry into the accused’s fitness to plead;
  • A hearing where the accused is pleading not guilty (i.e. a contest);
  • Committal hearing;
  • First hearing of accused following arrest, when the accused is required to be brought before the Court to be dealt with according to law;
  • Where a Court has directed the physical attendance of the accused in the interests of justice.

The Court’s website has been updated with AVL information about the changes, including:

  • Chief Magistrate Practice Direction 11 of 2016;
  • A practitioners guide to AVL hearings;
  • FAQ’s;
  • New Form 45 – application for physical appearance;
  • New Form 46 – application for appearance by AVL;
  • A list of each court venue’s AVL capacity and timetable for installation; and
  • The daily list of scheduled AVL hearings.

Testing electronic evidence in court

The County Court has opened courtroom 2.10 daily with a tipstaff in attendance to test any disks, laptops or other electronic evidence to be used during a trial. The Court is trying to avoid wasted court time due to parties testing media or media not ‘playing’. This problem is aggravated when parties attempt to play untested media for the first time after empanelment.

** Members should be aware that the Court will be increasingly critical of parties who do not test media prior to the hearing.

Legal Aid Matters!

Monday 16 May at 1pm

Steven Hynes from Access to Justice and Legal Aid in the UK will be speaking in the Neil Mc Phee Room, Owen Dixon Chambers East. All members welcome.
Tuesday 17 May at 9am – Legal Aid Rally Flyer
Members are encouraged to rally in support of proper funding for legal aid at 9am in the County Court plaza, cnr William and Lonsdale Streets.


Tuesday 17 May at 6:30pm
Members are invited to hear Steven Hynes speak at the inaugural Cranlana Programme Justice & Society Oration and dinner and address at 6.30pm, Tuesday 17 May 2016 at Cranlana, 62 Clendon Road, Toorak. Cost: $150, including dinner and drinks – click here to register

Further information:, 03 9827 2660

Fearless Music – Sunday 8 May

Tastylia Portugal Liberty Event – Fearless Music – Sunday, 8 May at 3pm

Top musicians sing and play for liberty.  Tix $45-$65. Featuring: Ross Wilson, Cash Savage, Stephen Cummings, Sean Kelly, Mark Seymour, Liz Stringer, Rob Snarski, Jane Clifton, Lisa Miller.  MC: Brian Nankervis. The show aims to support the rights Liberty Victoria says about being lost by Australians and especially by refugees.  

 Fearless Music flyer.

“Society is heavily burdened by the appalling offshore refugee prisons and laws that invade so many parts of people’s private lives,” says Liberty president George Georgiou SC. “We are delighted to have these performers come together under the banner of  binaire opties boek Fearless Music.” Get your tickets NOW

Jury reasoning in joint and separate trials of institutional child sexual abuse

You are invited to attend the launch of a major new research report commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse. The launch will be hosted by the Royal Commission’s Chair, The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM and the authors, Professors Jane Goodman-Delahunty and Annie Cossins, will present the research and their findings, followed by a short Q&A. 

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LCA opposes mandatory minimums

The Law Council of Australia will tell a Senate inquiry into the need for a nationally-consistent approach to alcohol-fuelled violence today that mandatory minimum penalties for alcohol-fuelled violence offences should be repealed. The peak body for Australian lawyers emphasised that mandatory sentencing is not effective as a deterrent or consistent with rule of law principles. Here is the LCA media release (15 Apr 16).

Tendency & coincidence in High Court

The High Court today delivered judgment in IMM v The Queen [2016] HCA 14 – an appeal from the NT Supreme Court. In it, the Court held that when determining the “probative value” of evidence under the Evidence Act, a trial judge must proceed on the assumption that the jury will accept the evidence, and as such it follows that no question as to credibility or reliability of the evidence can arise.

However the Court also held, by majority, that evidence from a complainant adduced to show an accused’s sexual interest can generally have limited, if any, probative value.

New book on interlocutory appeals

A new book, Interlocutory Criminal Appeals is now out by Thomson Reuters. A special 20% discount is available to Criminal Barristers if ordered directly with the contact below by 10 May 2016. The foreword by Justice Weinberg reads, “Every criminal lawyer, worth his or her salt, should turn to this book for guidance through the unruly thicket of legislation and case law that now governs appeals of this nature.” To order, contact Johannes Christmann on

Sentencing statistics – SACStat

The Sentencing Advisory Council has released updated higher courts sentencing statistics on SACStat, the Council’s online statistical tool. SACStat – Higher Courts now covers sentencing for the five years to 30 June 2015. It presents aggregate data for nearly 200 offences sentenced in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria.

SACStat is suitable for tablet devices, increasing its usability by legal practitioners in court.

Both SACStat and Sentencing Snapshots contain data on sentence type and sentence quantum (sentence length or fine amount) for cases and charges of a particular offence. However, important differences between the two products include:

  • the range of offences (SACStat – Higher Courts covers 198 offences compared with 31 offences for Sentencing Snapshots)
  • the currency of data (SACStat – Higher Courts is updated annually and Sentencing Snapshots are updated every second year)
  • offender demographics (SACStat – Higher Courts presents data according to the age and gender of offenders)
  • longitudinal data (Sentencing Snapshots present data disaggregated by financial year).

SACStat can be accessed from the SAC website.

Short time until trial

The delays experienced between committal and trial in recent times have been greatly reduced. In some cases now, the time until trial can be quite short (eg, 2 months). Please contact Simon Moglia on with examples of any problems arising due to the short time. The CBA will then give feedback to the Court.

Trials not proceeding

Counsel are reminded to ensure that the Court is notified if a trial settles or is otherwise not able to proceed. This is a matter of courtesy, but also avoids the waste of Court resources in preparation for trial.

Victorian Reports

The Council of Law Reporting in Victoria is pleased to be partnering with BarNet, the producers of JADE, and Little William Bourke to provide the widest dissemination of the Reports at the lowest cost through a dedicated website.

The website provides a full statement advising of a new publishing arrangement and the appointment of a new editor for the Reports. The Council is also delighted with the appointment of Peter Willis SC as the new Editor.

New rules reminder

Members will remember that new Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 came into operation on 1 July 2015 and replaced the rules and regulations made under the Legal Profession Act 2004 (that Act was replaced by the Legal Professional Uniform Law (Vic), which also came into operation on 1 July 2015). The “Good Conduct Guide” is now out of date (it is understand a new version will be coming out this year).