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    « Vic's Lawn Order agenda | Main | Snakes alive »
    Tuesday
    Sep092014

    Heart of the bar

    News from the Street of Shame ... Deutschland marshalling forces ... The Sevens rub tummies ... Eating and talking ... Interviews with Queens' Counsel ... Advocacy skills require being in many courts at once 

    Marriage announcements 

    A quiet wedding on October 1 is in order for the marriage of Seven Selborne and the codgers at Seven Wentworth. 

    Meantime, Jackson's Landing in the Deutsche Bank building is finalising divorce proceedings with 7/180 Phillip Street on September 30, and then seeking to spread Panzer-like into new territories on the floor below (Poland).

    The union of two Sevens will bring together the unique and different talents of clerk Nick Tiffen and practice manager Andrew Laughlin. 

    Will it be as friction riddled as the relationship between Silk's Billy Lamb and Harriet Hammond? 

    Ian Bellshaw has already been pinched from St James Hall for the new Deutschland war machine. 

    Rumour has it that Arthur Moses wants to join 7-Up, the most expensive real estate on the planet, which is home to Geoffrey Watson. Both have been mud-wrestling at ICAC with Arthur, acting for stood-down police minister Mike Gallacher, giving this explanation to commissioner Megan Latham: 

    "I had to throw in a Watson, it's rubbing off on me. I know I'm spending too much time down here, commissioner. I've got to get back to the Court of Appeal." 

    Feasting with QCs  

    Karyl Nairn QC: twice cooked ribs with treacle

    What deliciously contrasting subjects and topics in the weekend lunch columns - SMH/Age and the Financial Review respectively. 

    There was Ron Merkel QC sitting down with Fairfax journalist Michael Gordon for a small feast and a good solid interview at MoVida Aqui in Melbourne. 

    Over in the west, AFR bureau chief Jonathan Barrett was tucking in at Varnish on King with Perth born, but London based, Karyl Nairn QC. 

    The food often gets in the way of these lunchtime interrogations. At the Merkel eatathon the waiter's choices for the menu, "act as elegant punctuation marks on a conversation about an extraordinary life in the law".  

    "Our favourites include the organic baby beets served with fromage frais and mojama, and the hand filleted Cantabrian anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet." 

    In Perth, the order was for: "one tater tots, one twice cooked short rib with treacle, one winter vegetables". It looks like only one of them was eating.  

    Barrett gushed: 

    "A client, like a waitress, could leave a meeting with Nairn and be genuinely happy with the outcome. As promised, the meat does fall off the bone; the waitress is delighted that Nairn is delighted. If only litigious opponents were so easily pacified." 

    She orders a glass of pinot noir, but it's barely sipped: 

    "It's not as though Nairn's opposed to a glass or two of alcohol, it's just that an international client could call at any moment and she doesn't want to be impaired for the conversation." 

    And she doesn't drink coffee because the caffeine might prevent her, "catching up on much needed sleep should the opportunity arise". 

    Just so there's no mistake, Karyl is pronounced "Kar-i-el". 

    Kai-i-el is the global co-head of litigation and arbitration at the London outpost of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Among other feats of heroism, she was lead partner for the defence in the largest private litigation in the world, Boris Berezovsky v Roman Abramovich.  

    On the other hand, Ron Merkel is the ex-judge now back at the bar doing public interest work on indigenous, human rights and refugee issues. 

    Ron Merkel QC: organic baby beetsHis most recent High Court appearance was for Tamil asylum seekers held below decks at sea by the Abbott government for nearly a month. 

    He also famously appeared for the successful applicants in the race discrimination case of Eatock v Bolt

    He's the son of Russian and Polish parents and went to Melbourne High. Kar-i-el went to the private girls school Penrhos in the suburb of Como. 

    Merkel also helped establish the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. 

    "If I look back on my many, many years in the law, the one thing I've learnt is that principle counts, and it counts more than even in refugee law. 

    The ends will never justify the means, and that is something our respective governments simply don't understand ... It's all ends driven and the means don't matter, and I think that's a fundamental flaw - and tragic at the human level." 

    He also despairs that the watered down referendum for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Constitution will be nothing more than, "another cosmetic addition to our constitutional constellation". 

    Over at Varnish on King, Kar-i-el is rabbiting on about her five-year-old son: 

    "He's probably the only kid with a gold card. He knows every executive club lounge across the globe." 

    After returning to London, Nairn chats on the phone with her interviewer: 

    "Sorry. It's kind of weird to talk about your own story. I was immediately out of my comfort zone. If you wouldn't mind, just don't make me sound like a wanker."  

    Here's the Merkel lunch 

    Here's the Nairn lunch  

    Speed dating


    Junior barristers waiting to fill in for absent silk

    As word sweeps the track of a Sydney SC prone to over-booking, the bar 'n' grill issues an edict about the wickedness of taking multiple briefs for hearings set down for the same time. 

    A missive from the friendly people at InBrief refers to complaints from the president of the Workers Comp Commission about counsel taking too many briefs for matters listed at times that clash.  

    What a shock to the system. Over-booking at the WCC. Unheard of.

    The warning notice from Selth HQ observes that if it's happening at the WCC, it just might be happening elsewhere. 

    "Barristers are reminded of rule 98: 'A barrister must not accept a brief to appear on a day when the barrister is already committed to appear or is reasonably likely to be required to appear on another brief if by appearing on one of the briefs the barrister would not in the normal course of events be able to appear on the other brief or briefs'."

    There are also policies about the polite way of returning briefs, see rules 102-106.  

    Surely, the Praetorian Guard would be aware that all of this is fairly commonplace in the District Court, with at least one notable silk in the arms and legs jurisdiction dispatching juniors to attend court to deal with his string of cases while he is absent, or pending his appearance. 

    Clients are promised a silk, but for most part get a junior. The good news is, they are billed at silk rates. 

    Happily, the bar apportions responsibility to the solicitors. 

    "Solicitors should check when retaining counsel that they do not already have a case before the commission. Solicitors should also be aware if counsel is unavailable when a matter if called on, they may be required to conduct the hearing." 

    How's that for punishing an over-committed brief - have someone from the Conveyancers' Club do the talking? 

    Reader Comments (1)

    I once sat in the District Court for about 90 minutes on a Friday afternoon waiting for a silk to arrive from the CCA so we could start the 2 pm sentence. The Judge didn't appear to be too fazed by the said silk's absence, and, after a suitable period of thumb-twiddling and broken promises about the anticipated "arrival time", ajourned the matter to another date, when, according to his "embarrassed" solicitor, the said silk was available. When that date came, said silk arrived in a flourish, and the matter commenced. Not even a whisper of apology to the Court (or to me), and off we went.

    I have also been on the receiving end of rolling adjournments of sentencing proceedings because the silk, or in one case, a senior and very well connected junior "was now not unavailable" because of a "diary conflict".

    Like football, it seems the rules are not always equally appllied. As a junior, I doubt I would have been treated the same way. But, that's life at the Bar right?
    September 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDisgruntled ...
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