Sets Directory

Browse all sets with extended profiles for Australia Bar


The Australian Bar is characterised by its regional diversity, with both the nature of cases and the structure of chambers varying among the states. In New South Wales, barristers are traditionally organised into floors, which have historically been based on one floor of one of a group of buildings near the Sydney courts, with small clerking teams. This is changing, however, with some newer chambers established on a model more akin to that of the London Bar and located elsewhere, while many floors also extend their clerking capabilities. In Victoria, most barristers are part of larger, decentralised lists, loosely administered by a single clerk or a small team. In Queensland and Western Australia, most chambers do not use clerks, though there are notable exceptions to this rule.

Much of the most prominent work handled at the Australian Bar consists of commercial disputes, with barristers acting for companies, public bodies, and individuals across a range of industries. Sydney and Melbourne are the national capitals for finance and technology work and provide the NSW and Victoria Bar with many cases along those lines, while disputes in Queensland and Western Australia often arise within the energy and resources and construction and infrastructure sectors, meaning talent in those areas can be found often in Brisbane and Perth. That said, regulations are very flexible in terms of permitting barristers to appear inter-state, in both federal and state courts. Moreover, some parts of Australia (including South Australia and Western Australia) operate fused professions as far as regulators are concerned, and whether one practices in a firm or as part of the self-employed referral Bar is a matter of self-identification in those jurisdictions. Australia’s federal courts generally are restricted only to certain areas of law, and sit nationwide (including the High Court of Australia, which in a departure from British nomenclature is Australia’s court of final appeal), meaning that Canberra’s role in the Australian legal market is not as strong as, to make the obvious comparison, Washington DC in the US’s. Trans-Tasman comparisons are also of limited utility, given that New Zealand, unlike Australia, operates a unitary system.

Notable areas of focus for Australian barristers include construction and infrastructure law, environment and planning, alongside intellectual property and trade marks. Royal commissions and inquiries have grown into significant sources of work in recent years, as high-profile inquiries into alleged large-scale money laundering at the nation’s two largest casinos generate related disputes and dominate press coverage. On the trademark side, notable companies such as Instagram have seen coverage over concerns of trademark infringement, alongside the emergence of artificial intelligence posing questions to the legal system, with the case of Patents v Thaler questioning whether an artificial intelligence system that incorporates artificial neural networks may be an ‘inventor’ for the purposes of the Patents Act 1990. Competition law has also seen a number of noteworthy cases, including cartel conduct and an application for merger authorisation brought in the Australian Competition Tribunal by Telstra and TPG, the largest and third largest telephone network companies in Australia.

Leading sets in Sydney include Banco Chambers and New Chambers, as well as Tenth Floor Wentworth Selborne Chambers and the small but elite Fifth Floor St James’ Hall Barristers. List G Barristers and List A Barristers are both highly regarded in Melbourne, and Level Twenty Seven Chambers stands out in Brisbane. In Perth, Quayside Chambers is another notable set.

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