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Adelaide's QC rupture ... South Australian bar and CJ at loggerheads on new queenies ... Judges opposed to appointment of new QCs ... Adoption of the Victorian model ... Court likely not to participate in the selection process ... "Political silks" ... Read more ... 

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    "That seems to be the only thing that drives them. Getting hold of power, to wield it." 

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the Labor Party. March 4, 2019 ... Read more flatulence ... 


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    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 ... From Justinian's archive, September 2014 ... Read more ... 


     

     

    « Letter from London | Main | Michael Finnane QC »
    Tuesday
    May012018

    Dr Matt Collins QC

    President of Vic's Bar n Grill on Justinian's Couch ... Matt Collins discusses the findings of the State of the Victorian Bar report ... Solicitors eating more of the bar's lunch ... Barristers not overpaid, considering ... Love of Paris, The Beatles, and Australian cinema ... The Hockey case ... Defamation laws unfit for purpose ... An impatient driver of change 

     

    Collins: obsessed about impeachment

    DR Matt Collins QC is the President of the Victorian Bar and one of Australia's leading defamation silks. He has acted in many of the most important free speech cases of the past generation, as well as for Rebel Wilson in her recent triumph over Bauer Media.

    He is the author of all three editions of The Law of Defamation and the Internet (OUP, 2001, 2005, 2010) and a modestly titled text on the defamation laws of England and Wales, Collins on Defamation (OUP, 2014).

    He is a Senior Fellow at the Melbourne Law School, a door tenant at One Brick Court Chambers in London and a former national chair of the Law Council of Australia's Media and Communications Committee.

    Matt is currently lead counsel for ANZ in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. 

    He tiptoed away from Kenneth Hayne's abbatoir to spend a soothing moment unwinding on Justinian's couch ...  

    Describe yourself in three words.

    Energetic. Optimistic. Impatient.

    What are you currently reading? 

    James Comey's "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership". I've developed an obsession with how and when Trump will be impeached.

    What's your favourite film?

    "Muriel's Wedding." If it is on TV I drop everything. In the same basket with other great Australian films of that era: "Strictly Ballroom ... Priscilla ... The Castle".

    Who has been the most influential person in your life? 

    My partner, Leonard.

    When were you happiest? 

    The first time I saw Paris with my own eyes.

    What is your favourite piece of music? 

    I know I am supposed to nominate Mahler, but The Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road". Pathos and beauty even as the band was falling apart, and McCartney's final, defeated, "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah". 

    President of the Victorian Bar ... Barrister ... Royal Commission … What are your secrets of time management? 

    There are secrets to time management?

    Have you a favourite recipe that you would like to share? 

    Step 1: Download Deliveroo

    Step 2: Order food

    Step 3: Meet the driver on the street

    What is the most important thing you learned from the report on the State of the Victorian Bar

    The report is a powerful tool for helping to drive a change in the conversation about the relevance of the independent Bar in the 21st century. It proves that our demography has shifted dramatically and permanently.

    It provides confidence that we are heading in the right direction with real momentum, and that we will increasingly reflect the community we serve. And it reminds me every day that while we are the custodians of an important institution, we are not immune from disruption. Our most important members are yet to join the Bar. 

    Were there any disappointments for you in the findings? 

    The glacially slow rate of improvement in the proportion of women silks. And data proving what we knew anecdotally - that solicitors are briefing later and doing more of our traditional work in-house. 

    Are barristers paid too much? 

    No. Too many junior criminal barristers struggle to make ends meet. Our top silks don't match the earnings of CEOs of ASX200 companies. But for most barristers between those extremes, it is a well-remunerated career for work that is often grindingly difficult and stressful.

    Who would you like to play you in a film about your life?

    Rebel Wilson.

    Rebel playing Matt

    Why law, and not another worthwhile pursuit? 

    I don't like the sight of blood.

    What was your most interesting case as a barrister? 

    The "Treasurer for Sale" defamation case brought by Joe Hockey against Fairfax Media, in which I acted for Fairfax. Opaque political fundraising, front page splashes across multiple mastheads, posters, tweets, internal editorial machinations. Members of the public contacted me with ideas for cross-examination, almost all of which were completely loopy.

    Is there too much defamation and what can be done about it? 

    Wash your mouth out.

    Seriously, our defamation laws are not fit-for-purpose. They do not provide quick or cost-effective remedies for the gravely defamed; but nor do they protect the media in cases involving good faith investigative journalism that is in the public interest. Urgent reform is required. I am available to draft the legislation.

    What was the most important opportunity you didn't take? 

    Pursuing politics, for fear that being gay would have been an insurmountable impediment.

    What do you want to achieve during your time as bar president? 

    I have a busy agenda, informed by our core values: independence, excellence, leadership, growth. Major projects include an ambitious diversity and inclusion program, reforming and expanding our commitment to pro bono work, showcasing in every forum the Bar as a centre of legal excellence, and improving work opportunities for members. 

    Who do you most admire professionally?

    My parents, both of whom were school teachers, and wanted their children's lives to be better than theirs.

    What is your favourite word?

    Exordium.

    What would you change about Australia?

    Its geographic location.

    What comes to your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"? 

    I just tried that. I shut my eyes and thought of the word "law". My mind was blank for quite some time, but the thought that eventually triumphed was the privilege that comes from the luck of being able to do this job in this place at this time. 

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