Barrister turns another page

15 August 2013 By Justin Whealing

The barrister currently taking on the head of the NSW Bar has form when it comes to tackling the establishment, previously sticking it to the Liberal Party.

Yesterday, Lawyers Weekly reported on the latest skirmish in the battle of the barristers over moves to usher in changes that would permit barristers in NSW to incorporate their practices.

5 Selborne Chambers barrister John Hyde Page (pictured) has been the lieutenant of the pro-incorporation forces, marshalling an impressive army of senior silks and young foot soldiers to the cause.

Unsurprisingly, Hyde Page’s incorporation advocacy has led to him butting heads with members of the NSW Bar Association’s top brass.


The president of the NSW Bar, Phillip Boulten SC, told Lawyers Weekly earlier this week that the push for incorporation is motivated by barristers seeking to minimise their tax payments, and will not benefit clients or the community.

“To change the rules for tax reasons, and for tax reasons alone, is an unacceptable reason for changing the rules of barristers’ practice,” he said.

Despite Hyde Page, who has only been a barrister for three years, copping flack from senior members of the Bar such as Boulten, he is battle hardened and won’t be swayed.

In 2006 he burnt many political bridges when he penned Education of a Young Liberal.

Hyde Page, a former member of the Young Libs in NSW and a former staffer to Peter King, the member for Wentworth before the ex-hack and lawyer Malcolm Turnbull rolled him, opened up about the grubby nature of internal party politics, with details of branch stacking and dirty deals to satisfy massive egos and people’s power plays.

Lawyers Weekly Discover

Hmm, Folklaw is loathe to draw any comparisons with the Bar or law firms there...

In 2006, Hyde Page appeared on an ABC Four Corners program which blew the lid on Liberal Party branch stacking in NSW.

In one memorable exchange with reporter Janine Cohen, he tells her branch stacking “is rife”, and when she asks him how he knows that he candidly replies “I was involved in it for a long period of time”.

A short while later in the program he states he is not very proud of his actions.

Folklaw hears ya John, as, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style, there are many youthful indiscretions we would like to erase from our memories as well.

Unsurprisingly, Hyde Page’s book and the Four Corners program did not go down well with his old political chums, with one former Young Liberal colleague taking legal action over claims in the book.

Hyde Page was certainly on the side of the angels in revealing the dirty political games that both the Libs and the Labor Party have played down the years.

It remains to be seen whether he has a higher power on his side with the current Bar stoush though, with a vote due on Tuesday 17 September to consider in-principle support for changes to permit barristers to practise through single-member corporate entities in NSW.

Folklaw, an agnostic observer in these things, will be at the other kind of bar, waiting for the results with bated breath...

Barrister turns another page
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