Judge Kerry O’Brien appointed as next Chief Judge of QLD District Court

The Governor in Council has approved the appointment of of Kerry O’Brien as Queensland’s new Chief Judge of the District Court.

His Honour was a Crown Prosecutor in Rockhampton and then Townsville’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions before being appointed to the District Court in 1989. Since then, he has served as President of the Childrens’ Court and was appointed Judge Administrator in 2008.

Uniform legal profession regulation for NSW & Vic

The New South Wales and Victorian governments have agreed on a uniform scheme for regulation of the legal profession

The Attorney General of each state has signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on a Legal Profession Uniform Framework for the new scheme.

The new arrangements aim to make it simpler for lawyers to do business within and across state borders,  strengthen the standing of Australian lawyers in international legal markets and strengthen client protections.

Proposed requirements under the uniform arrangements include:

  • that law firms may only charge legal costs that are fair and reasonable
  • there be a single set of rules governing matters such as the requirements for maintaining and auditing trust accounts, continuing professional development requirements and billing requirements.
  • a simplified process for admitting foreign lawyers to practice Australian law.
  • a short, standard-form of costs disclosure as an alternative to full costs disclosure in matters where total costs are not likely to exceed $3,000.
  • a single set of admissions requirements.

The scheme has target commencement date of 1 July 2014

Making false allegations for APVOs to become a criminal offence

Attorney General Greg Smith SC has announced that making false allegations in order to obtain a personal violence order against a neighbour, co-worker, or stranger will become a criminal offence.

The proposed changes follow an interim review of frivolous and vexatious apprehended personal violence orders, which was tabled in the NSW parliament last month.

Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) differ from Domestic Violence orders and can only be used when the victim is not in a “domestic relationship” with the alleged perpetrator.

The proposed changes to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 will make it an offence to give a false or misleading statement in an application for an apprehended personal violence order.


23 October 2013

President appointed to Tribunal

Attorney General Greg Smith SC has announced the appointment of Robertson Wright SC as a Supreme Court judge and as the inaugural President of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

NCAT will integrate 23 of the State’s tribunals and bodies, operating four specialist divisions:

  • Consumer and Commercial
  • Guardianship
  • Administrative and Equal Opportunity and
  • Occupational and Regulatory.

Mr Wright has been practising as a barrister for 30 years and has been a Judicial Member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) since 2007. 

Mr Wright obtained a Bachelor of Laws and Arts at the University of Sydney, receiving first class honours for both degrees. He began practising law in 1980, was admitted to the bar in 1983 and has been a Senior Counsel since 2001. 

Mr Wright will be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 25 October 2013 and will begin a five-year term as NCAT President on that day.


16 October 2013


Case note: Oyston v St Patrick’s College – school looses appeal in bullying case…

An appeal by St Patrick’s College on liability for a $116,000 damages award to a student has been dismissed.

Ms Oyston was a year 9 student who had brought a claim against the College in negligence alleging that she had suffered psychological harm as a result of bullying by other students. The Judge at first instance gave judgment in her favour and made orders awarding damages to her of $116,296.60, plus interest.

This decision of the NSW Court of Appeal was only in relation to the issue of the College’s breach of its duty of care, with other issues such as causation of the damage to be decided separately. The appeal on liability was dismissed because the Court of Appeal agreed with the Judge at first instance that the school had not taken sufficient steps to stop the bullying.


Oyston v St Patrick’s College [2013] NSWCA 135


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