Matters covered in this Newsletter:-
Commonwealth Law Conference September 2005
CAPSL Meeting September 2005 & Topics
Marlborough House meeting
Kiribati needs staff
Legal Professional Privilege Problem for the Australian Armed
Pro Bono Work for Government Lawyers
Automated Administrative Law?
Conference September 2005
Lawyers Association and the Law Society of England & Wales have
recently announced that they will jointly host the Commonwealth Law
Conference 2005 to be held at The Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre
in Westminster, London from 11 Ė 15 September 2005 in conjunction with
the Law Societyís own Annual Conference. This is the first time that
the Conference has been held in London since the inaugural Conference
Up to 2000 lawyers
representing 53 Commonwealth countries are expected to attend. To find
out more and to register your interest visit
From my experience at Commonwealth Law
Conferences I can only encourage anyone who can attend to do so. I
have consistently found them intellectually stimulating, excellent for
ongoing legal education and great fun.
In conjunction with
the Commonwealth Law Conference CAPSL will hold its satellite meeting.
At present arrangements for CAPSLís own involvement in the
Commonwealth Law Conference are being refined.
Details, including venue, will be published here on the CAPSL web site
and emailed to members as soon as plans have been firmed up.
CAPSLís arrangements are
being assisted by the firm Evershedís which has a significant public
Topics for CAPSL
It presently looks
like CAPSL will meet on Sunday 10 September 2005.Anyone with ideas as
to what they would like CAPSL to try and arrange should advise the
Chairman or the Secretary as soon as possible by email to
Topics presently under consideration include:-
- Pro Bono Work and Government lawyers
- Legal Professional Privilege in a Public Sector
- Corporate Manslaughter
- Problems for decision-makers in the
public-sector: The law on bias and fettering discretion
Marlborough House Meetings 2004
CAPSL was recently
invited to attend. Our Chair Mike Kendall was unavailable and the
tyranny of distance forbad my attendance. Former Secretary,
Christopher Robinson, was good enough to make himself available to
attend and make a presentation about CAPSL. The following is his
report of how the meeting went.
Along with other
partner organisations, CAPSL was invited to be represented at the recent
meetings at the Commonwealth Secretariat of Senior Officials of
Commonwealth Law Ministries and of Law Ministers and Attorneys-General
of Small Commonwealth Jurisdictions.
Each organisation had
the opportunity to circulate in advance to the delegates a paper and
also to address the meeting. At the first meeting there were 82
delegates from 42 different commonwealth jurisdictions and at the second
47 delegates representing 25 small jurisdictions. Attendance at the
meetings therefore provided CAPSL with a unique high level opportunity
to present itself.
paper explained its aims and membership structure and invited delegates
to consider and comment on the future development of its web site and on
the most appropriate programme for the Association to mount in
conjunction with the Commonwealth Law Conference in 2005 and generally
It was good to see a
number of current individual members and representatives of current
institutional members of the Association at the meetings.
The main drift of the
Associationís presentation was encouragement to the remaining government
legal departments to take up institutional membership of the association
and to contribute information about their respective services to the web
site thus making it more generally useful. Several delegates completed
application forms on the day and others took them away to discuss the
possibility of membership back at the office first.
A number of new members
have joined CAPSL flowing from Mr. Robinsonís presentation. Since the
meetings the contacts made have all been followed up although a number
of the email addresses in the delegate lists appear to be inaccurate and
this has been somewhat frustrating. However it is to be hoped that we
will get some feed back on the issues raised and also a steady if slow
increase in the number of government legal departments taking up
Kiribati needs staff
This unique country,
located in the central Pacific and already an Association member, was
represented at the Marlborough House meetings by its Solicitor-General,
David Lambourne. He has advised the Association that he is currently
experiencing severe staffing problems, that the British NGO
Voluntary Service Overseas no longer produces volunteers for his
geographic area and he cannot afford the fees charged by government
departments and private firms for out-sourced or seconded lawyers.
He would therefore be
interested to hear from any lawyer with at least some post qualification
experience who might like to take a career break helping out in his
office. The pay would not be great but
the experience, professional and otherwise, would more than make up for
that. But beware! David points out that he was a Queensland lawyer who
first went there on secondment and has stayed on and is now a Kiribati
resident. Clearly it is a seductive place. Anyone remotely interested in
helping David out might like to look at the Kiribati page on our web
site but generally should contact him direct at
Legal Professional Privilege Problem for
the Australian Armed Forces
The recent decision of the Supreme Court of the
Australian Capital Territory has made a decision which could have
significant repercussions for legal professional privilege in Government
practice and in the corporate legal context.
In the case of Vance v McCormack
 ACTSC 78 the court denied a claim for legal
professional privilege in circumstances where the relevant lawyers did
not hold practicing certificates (and were not statutorily exempt).
Similarly the Court held that the hierarchical nature of the Armed
Forces involved the possibility of the independence which a practicing
lawyer would be expected to have might be displaced where subject to
orders from a superior officer.
An appeal is anticipated. The case is one which,
subject to whatever happens on appeal, has potential to cause a rethink
of the structuring of legal service provision both in the public sector
context and the in-house corporate lawyer sense.
Pro Bono Work for
In Sydney on 29 October 2004, on behalf of
the Australian National Pro Bono
Resource Centre an information paper "Government Lawyers and Pro Bono"
was launched by Mike Napier, senior partner of law firm Irwin Mitchell
and Pro Bono Envoy to the Attorney-General of England and Wales, The Rt.
Hon The Lord Goldsmith QC.
The launch was held as part of a lunch, held
at Blake Dawson Waldron in Sydney, and was attended by lawyers from
State and Federal Government agencies and authorities and the NSW and
Commonwealth Attorney-General's Departments as well as a number of the
Full text of the paper
can be accessed at:-
Pro Bono and Government lawyer are words often
thought to be at odds with each other. The paper raises many policy
issues for consideration.
Automated Administrative Law?
The Australian Attorney General, Phillip Ruddock,
on 8 December 1004 launched the Australian Administrative Review
Council's report on Automated Assistance in Administrative Decision
Making in Canberra.
It discusses best practice principles for the
progress and process of expert computer systems to make or assist in the
making of administrative decisions. A copy of the text of the paper can
be accessed at
The Council believes the principles will ensure
that decisions made using expert systems are consistent with existing
administrative law values.
19th Biennial LAWASIA Conference
Queensland Law Society will be hosting the 19th Biennial LAWASIA
Conference, in conjunction with the 34th Australian Legal Convention.
The LAWASIA Downunder 2005 Conference will be one of the biggest
international legal events of the year. It will be held at the Gold
Coast and will coincide with the Queensland Law Societyís 44th Annual
Symposium, together with the Australian Legal Convention and the
biennial conference of the Chief Justices of Asia Pacific. The website
will detail speakers & topics as they are confirmed.