WHY I advocate?

Finding Answers. Delivering Solutions.
— William Lye
 
The Supreme Court of Victoria

The Supreme Court of Victoria

What barristers do?

A barrister is a specialist in court-room advocacy, drafting legal pleadings, and giving expert legal opinions. 

Traditionally, a barrister is retained directly by a solicitor, who represents the client, to advise on the law and evidence, and conduct the trial or appeal in court. Today, in limited circumstances a barrister can be retained directly by a client to provide legal and strategic advice either prior to the commencement of any court proceeding or otherwise in the area of his or her expertise, 

All barristers in Australia are self-employed and conduct their practice from chambers. They pride themselves in being able to provide a fresh and independent view of the dispute between the parties. They are strategic advisors and independent advocates.

A barrister is an officer of the Court. His or her first duty is to the Court.

The first barrister of Chinese descent practising at the Victorian Bar was William Ah Ket. He died in 1936.  

SENIOR COUNSEL or queen’s counsel

The title and rank of Senior Counsel (S.C.) or Queen’s Counsel (QC), also referred to as ‘Silk’, is a recognition of a barrister’s distinguished and proven merit as an advocate in the administration of justice. Silks are members of the inner Bar, acting as leaders of the Bar, with additional professional responsibility to clients, the community, and the legal profession. Senior Counsel is typically instructed in more difficult or complex matters.

The Institution of Silk dates back to the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth named Sir Francis Bacon as ‘learned counsel extraordinary to Her Majesty’. Sir Francis Bacon was the first ‘Crown Counsel’. In 1604, King James I appointed Sir Francis Bacon with letters patent, making him the first King’s Counsel. The title Queen’s Counsel is, therefore, of ancient lineage.

The gowns of Senior Counsel or Queen’s Counsel are made of silk. In Victoria, the silk gown incorporates a rosette attached to the back of the gown by a silk ribbon. The rosette is a square piece of black silk decorated with a bow on each corner. These bows have several layers of ruffled silk pinned with a button in the centre.

The office of Queen’s Counsel was conferred by Letters Patent for pre-eminent distinction as an advocate in Court. Letters Patent is, thus, a type of legal instrument issued by a Monarch or by the prerogative powers of the Head of State granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to an individual. Other individuals appointed by Letters Patent include the Governor, Deputy Governor, Executive Councillor, Minister, Supreme or County Court judge, Queen’s Counsel, and Royal Commissioner.

In Victoria, Senior Counsel are appointed by the Chief Justice pursuant to Rule 14.10 of the Supreme Court (Miscellaneous Civil Proceedings) Rules 2018 and under the seal of the Court. The appointments are entered onto the Roll of Senior Counsel kept by the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court.

A Queen’s Counsel is appointed by Letters Patent to be ‘one of His Majesty’s counsel learned in the law’. Senior Counsel in Victoria may only apply for Letters Patent to be appointed to the office of Queen’s Counsel upon invitation by the Attorney General and then upon recommendation to the Governor in Council. The power to appoint Queen’s Counsel through the issue of Letters Patent is exercised by the Governor in Council. See the Appointment of Her Majesty’s Counsel Order 2014.

Senior Counsel who obtains a grant of Letters Patent for a commission as Queen’s Counsel undertakes not to use the designation ‘Senior Counsel’ from the date of her or his appointment as Queen’s Counsel.

The appointment and Letters Patent expressly provide that the appointment is without loss or gain of precedence granted previously as Senior Counsel, and with full authority to do all things that any other of Her Majesty’s Counsel may do and in the same manner and form.

The Letters Patent is a single page document addressed to the recipient setting out the particular commission. It is signed by the Governor and the Attorney General. In Victoria, the details of the Letters Patent are entered in the Register of Letters Patent administered and kept by the Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The first Queen’s Counsel in Victoria were appointed on 10 August 1863. It took just over 100 years for Joan Rosanove, who was the first female Queen’s Counsel in Victoria, to be appointed in 1965. Looking around the world, the first female King’s Counsel was Helen Kinnear from Canada, appointed in 1934. The first women King’s Counsel in the United Kingdom were Helena Normanton and Rose Helibron, both appointed in 1949. Dame Roma Mitchell, from South Australia, was the first woman in Australia to be appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1962. The first women appointed Queen's Counsel in New Zealand were Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and Dame Lowell Goddard, both appointed on 4 March 1988.

What i do?

I have practised as a barrister for over 30 years.

My principal areas of legal practice involve commercial disputes, corporations law, cross border matters, and alternative dispute resolution. Specific areas include computer and technology matters, oppression and shareholder disputes, enforcement of foreign judgments and awards, contract law, property law, intellectual property law (trademarks and copyright), commercial arbitration, and mediation.

I believe that every problem has an answer but not every answer is the right solution for the client. I strive hard to find a strategic pathway to resolve a dispute. 

As I am also admitted to practice in NSW, ACT, QLD, NT, WA, SA, and TAS and have appeared in the Courts in NSW, NT, WA, and SA, I can assist clients in their matters in all jurisdictions. I am also able to assist clients with their international arbitration disputes.

WHAT DOES IT COST?

Litigation is costly. The process takes up much of the litigant's resources in time and money. Costs charged to clients are often based on a solicitor-client basis, and any amount recovered upon a success outcome is often less than what a client has paid as the Court usually orders costs on a party-party basis.  In some jurisdictions, each party might have to bear its own legal costs. A comprehensive index to the Scales of Costs can be found at the Law Institute of Victoria's website.

Counsel's fess

My hourly and daily rates are within the scale in the Senior Counsel column under the Supreme Court Scale of Costs.  An estimate of my fees will be given prior to the work being undertaken. I usually require my fees to be deposited into the Trust Account of my clerk in advance of the work being undertaken. Click Trust Account for details.

Supreme Court of Victoria Scale of Costs for Counsel as at 1 January 2019

Supreme Court of Victoria Scale of Costs for Counsel as at 1 January 2019