Cunneen slams bar association

Margaret Cunneen SC has sent a letter to NSW Bar Association members asking for support in preventing the 'disintegration' of the 'association’s credibility'.

Cunneen slams bar association
High-profile barrister Margaret Cunneen SC has sent a letter to NSW Bar Association members asking for support in preventing the 'disintegration' of the 'association’s credibility'.

She accused the association of “highly partisan forays into the public arena”, the ABC reported.

“I do not believe it is in the interests of the profession for our peak body to maintain an overtly ideological and partial stance,” the letter stated.

Among other examples, Cunneen’s letter cites an association press release, saying it accused then-PM Tony Abbott of racial hatred and describing him as patronising, not in line with the association’s role of looking after barristers.

“The organisation has a role as a sensible and constructive participant in law reform.  It has never been, and should not be, a soap box for senior members of Bar Council,” the letter said.

“In this last year the NSW Bar Association has made a number of highly partisan forays into the public arena.  For an organisation that relies on being taken seriously by incumbent governments, I would describe them as imprudent.”

Cunneen points out what she deems to be inconsistencies, where the Bar Association issued scathing comments about the Abbott’s reaction to the Federal Court’s decision on the Carmichael mine case but did not criticise opposition leader Bill Shorten for his attack on Dyson Heydon, a Bar Association member.

“Without being too prescriptive, I suggest a media protocol should be introduced, and amendments made to the constitution of the Bar Association,” said the letter.

“The purpose of this would be to ensure that neither the Presidency of the Bar Association (nor any other position in the organisation) can be used as a platform for the unilateral expression of ideological and personal views, as distinct from policies that have been adopted by the entire Bar Council in properly convened meetings of Bar Council.”

She concluded the letter calling for supporters of her views to come forward to make changes.

The NSW Bar Association said it would not provide comment at this time when contacted by Australasian Lawyer.

Free newsletter

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter service and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest breaking news, cutting edge opinion, and expert analysis affecting both your business and the industry as whole.

Please enter your email address below and click on Sign Up for daily newsletters from Australasian Lawyer.

Recent articles & video

DWF lures two principals in Melbourne

DLA Piper passes US$3bn mark

NRF experts help create two funding programs to support agri-finance in Australia

US bar endorses probe of alternative law firm ownership

In-house legal teams need to take more risks says report…

Experts expect these four trends in cartel enforcement in Australia this year

Most Read Articles

Eight law firms among top 100 employers Australian graduates seek

Two top-tier firms act as Federal Court clears $15bn Vodafone-TPG merger

$570m acquisition succeeds with Lander & Rogers' advice

Lander & Rogers works on acquisition and related raising