Queensland Law Society

President's Update

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Last week’s QLS and FLPA Family Law Residential was another excellent event in the QLS professional development calendar.

Opening the three-day conference, I took the opportunity to acknowledge the great work that family law practitioners do in this often difficult area of law, with clients who can frequently be complex and emotional.

I noted that our family lawyers are strongly motivated to be the best in their field, with some 188 QLS accredited specialists in family law in Queensland, more than a third (37%) of the total number of QLS accredited specialists.

It was also interesting to observe that more than half (57%) of the family law QLS accredited specialists are female, and that almost half (49%) are based outside of Brisbane.

I also acknowledged the work of our QLS Family Law Committee, which has been active in our submissions on a number of issues, including proposals to legislate for marriage equality and the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2017.

Family lawyers are naturally quite excited about the coming review of Australian family law. The Australian Law Reform Commission review, announced by the Federal Government in May, will be the first comprehensive review of the Family Law Act 1975 and no doubt herald significant change.

At the Residential closing session, Family Court Justices Austin and Berman spoke about relevant cases illustrating the significance of alleged or actual domestic violence in family law matters relating to children and property, and how it can impact the value of the evidence presented.

There is a current proposal to amend the Family Law Act to allow in certain circumstances “a person appointed by the court” to conduct a cross-examination in substitution for self-represented litigants when issues of family violence are relevant. My concern is that the qualifications for this person are not defined in the proposed amendment

We will certainly be suggesting that this role should be performed by an Australian legal practitioner and that the necessary funding be made available to Legal Aid to fund the provision of these court-appointed intermediaries.

The Residential dinner is always a highlight of the event, and this year’s was no exception. I anticipate that some of the ‘fun’ photos from the night will be online shortly!

 

Thank you & acknowledgements

It seems appropriate at this point to mention our QLS events team. These are the people tasked with the preparation, organisation and conduct of our substantial events program, and I’m sure members will agree that they do a remarkable job.

Our events almost always run smoothly and on time, and I sincerely believe our track record in staging both professional development and other events is exemplary, thanks to Jack Baird, Jenaya Dickson, Leanne Hughes, Rachael Sinclair, Renee Rohrlach, Zoey Cruse and team leader Jae Spann.

 

Christine Smyth

QLS president