What use is an expat barrister?

The mental image of a barrister is of someone sporting a wig and gown, who spends their time arguing matters in court. So, at first glance, a barrister who cannot get to a courtroom (without spending 14 days in quarantine) does not seem to be the obvious choice.

2020 has definitely highlighted that when we look beyond the obvious, and many of us have by necessity reinvented what we do and how we do it. This expat barrister has been working remotely since 2018, so there is nothing new to me in receiving electronic briefs, or in advising by email/video conference. What that means is, in the current world the services that I provide are more relevant than ever.  In this post I wanted to show how my services actually worked for clients in 2020.

2020 in (very rough) outline

Documents for court and tribunal proceedings: this includes documents to be made available to judges and other parties, but also aides-mémoires and other documents which assist lawyers in presenting their case:

  • Written submissions (for interlocutory hearings; opening and closing submissions; and submissions on specific applications such as costs);
  • Settling affidavits;
  • Objections on evidence;
  • Drafting chronologies; and
  • Notes for presenters, including bullet point speaking notes to develop in oral submissions, and cross-examination notes.

Drafting documents and correspondence: from requests for further and better particulars, to preparing specific clauses for agreements, to settling correspondences, I have been able to prepare correspondences and settle draft agreements overnight, ready for clients to pick up and use the following morning.

Legal research: generally lawyers want one of two types of research: a formal note which can be presented to a client, or a briefing note to allow the lawyer to get up to speed on specific issues.  Speed or turnaround, and accuracy of content, are vital.  Some of my work this year included:

  • Analysing the regime applying to rescission of off the plan property sale contracts in NSW;
  • Numerous specific analyses of the application of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules in NSW, and the Federal Court Rules;
  • Consideration of specific terms of written contracts;
  • Partnership disputes and repudiation of partnership deeds; and
  • Administration of estates.

COVID-19: 2020 has seen one of the most intense periods of legislative activity in Australia, with State and Federal governments introducing, and amending, legislation at an incredibly rapid pace.  Offering swift advice on the fast changing state of the law requires knowing not only the current state of a raft of new legislation, but the (brief) legislative history and the ability to form views on complex questions where little to no binding authority exists.  This year has seen me focus in particular on:

  • Retail and residential leases (including lease extensions and terminations, and rent deferrals);
  • Employment arrangements including the JobKeeper program; and
  • The current regime applying to statutory demands served on corporations.

Bespoke legal advice: whether a formal opinion, a high level briefing note or anything in between, I have covered a range of issues this year and provided advice both prior to the commencement of proceedings, and during the course of legal proceedings:

  • Sundry formal advices on prospects (both at first instance and for appeals) and on evidence;
  • Advising on trust beneficiaries’ access to trust documents and information;
  • Advice on various disputes involving regulators and professional bodies, including dispute resolution mechanics, and grounds for bringing disputes;
  • Numerous strata disputes (pre litigation and during litigation) which have considered the positions of individual owners, owners corporations, and caretakers/building managers.  I advise on the full gamut of strata related disputes, and this year have looked at matters including common property disputes, conduct of general meetings, disputes under building manager agreements;
  • Building disputes, including disputes as to performance and claims for payment under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 (NSW);
  • Advice on shareholders’ rights under shareholder agreements;
  • Formal advice on prospects (at first instance and for appeals) and on evidence;
  • Briefing notes on evidence, legislative provisions;
  • Exercise of powers by mortgagee in possession.

I hope that gives you an idea of the ways in which I can help to speed up your workflow by advising, researching, and drafting on an overnight basis, giving you the materials and information you need when you get into the office in the morning.

If you practice in the areas above,  if assistance of this type would be helpful to you, or if you just want to learn more about what I do, I’d love to have a catch up by email, video or chat.