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Spreading the load

THERE has been a shakeup in WA’s barrister ranks thanks to six Supreme Court and Royal Commission appointments.

Christopher Pullin, Eric Heenan and Carmel McClure have all been made justices of the Supreme Court.

Ken Pettit is counsel assisting the Royal Commission into police corruption in WA. His fellow barristers, Wayne Martin and Tony Lucev, are involved with royal commissions into HIH and the building and construction industry respectively.

These appointments have removed some of WA’s top commercial law barristers from practice.

Law Society of WA president Clare Thompson said this had reduced the number of barristers commercial law firms could brief on cases.

“However, the work is spreading around. Barristers that weren’t getting this type of work before are getting it now,” Ms Thompson said.

WA Bar Association president Ian Viner QC said the removal of some of WA’s top barristers to other appointments would not affect WA.

“It’s the law of physics – a vacuum is always filled,” Mr Viner said.

“We’ve had some new senior counsels come along to replace those that have gone.

“It’s opened up new opportunities for barristers at both the senior and junior level.”

Mr Martin said it was unusual to have so many Supreme Court justices retire at the same time, while also dealing with the resource drain resulting from a royal commission.

However, he believes WA’s 120-plus barrister ranks have more than enough depth to cover the appointments.

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