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Briefing counsel: the myths

Briefing counsel: the myths

Laina Chan debunks myths about when lawyers should be briefing counsel._x000D_

Laina Chan debunks myths about when lawyers should be briefing counsel.

At Melbourne TEC Chambers’ inaugural series of seminars held in Perth in May, it became clear that there were some myths surrounding the briefing of counsel. Curiously, there appeared to be a view held in the marketplace that counsel did not wish to be involved in the infancy stages of litigation. This could not be further from the truth.

In an ideal world, litigation would be run efficiently, cost effectively and clients would be perfectly informed about the procedural steps from the inception of proceedings to judgment and enforcement. Witnesses would have faultless memories, keep contemporaneous notes of their conversations, documentary evidence would be neatly filed away and evidence gathering would be a smooth and relatively pain-free exercise. Such is the ideal that the rules of procedure have encapsulated the goal of justice, efficiency and cost-effectiveness as the benchmark against which procedural steps are to be measured against.

Unfortunately, the realities of litigation are generally at odds with the ideal. The high cost of complex technology, engineering and construction (TEC) cases is notorious. Many attempts have been made over recent years to reduce the costs burden through a move away from discovery, alternative dispute resolution and more recently, a renewed emphasis on commercial arbitration. However, as many practitioners are aware, not all disputes are amenable to commercial arbitration. Some disputes require judicial power for their resolution. Furthermore, commercial arbitration in itself may not lead to any particular costs savings.

One seemingly counter-intuitive tool to managing the cost of litigation is to involve a specialist barrister early in the process. Barristers can help formulate the strategy for the entire dispute resolution process by targeting the key issues and dispensing with expensive skirmishes that do little more than escalate costs and aggravate all parties involved.

Melbourne TEC Chambers is running two identical half-day seminars for $295 per half-day session (and accredited for three CPD points) at the Hilton in Brisbane on 19 August 2014.

One of the topics will be ‘How to get more bang for your buck when working with counsel – a step-by-step practical guide to briefing counsel’ which will help dispense the myths around the practice of briefing counsel. Michael Heaton QC, Martin Scott QC, Albert Monichino QC, Caroline Kirton QC and Rob Harper SC, along with senior juniors Don Charrett, Michael Whitten, Ian Percy, Andrew Downie and myself from the Victorian Bar, will provide attendees with their point of view on the following topics:

  • Domestic Arbitration – The Future: New Acts, New Rules and New Attitudes
  • Recent Developments in International Arbitration
  • Penalties in Construction Law after Andrews v ANZ
  • Statutory Adjudication: Beware of Natural Justice
  • Recourse to Securities
  • Statutory Adjudication: Striving for National Security of Payment Legislation
  • Recent Developments in Expert Evidence
  • Dispute Boards

Copy and logo provided by Melbourne TEC Chambers. For more information on the seminars, an overview of the speakers and to secure yourself a seat at the seminars, please visit


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Briefing counsel: the myths
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