This week, Bianca Kabel, barrister at Level Twenty Seven Chambers sat down with us to chat about her role as sub-editor of the Queensland Reports – the latest addition to Thomson Reuters’ and Australia’s largest collection of authorised law reports.
Bianca is a member of the Bar Association of Queensland and the 2016 recipient of the University of Oxford Law Faculty Prize for Best Performance in the International Law of the Sea Paper. She has a broad civil practice focusing on commercial disputes, administrative law, contracts and equity.
Q: So tell us about where it all began for you and your legal career…
A: When I was very young, I filled out a questionnaire which asked: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. I responded “lawer” (sic). So it was in those early years that I began a long road towards fulfilling that dream – and learning how to spell it! I was born and raised in Brisbane and attended the University of Queensland to complete my undergraduate studies in law and commerce. After practising for a few years, including as an associate in the Supreme Court of Queensland, I returned to study for a year at the University of Oxford, where I read for the Bachelor of Civil Law. I now practise at the junior commercial bar in Brisbane.
Q: How will legal practitioners benefit from having the Queensland Reports available on Westlaw AU?
A: There is little doubt that authorised reports, including the Queensland Reports, provide significant value to legal practitioners. This is arguably truer today than ever. The practice of law has changed markedly over the past decades with the dramatic expansion in the availability and accessibility of legal authority and commentary. In Queensland alone, over the past 10 years the trial division and the Court of Appeal have each published, on average, more than 380 decisions per year. With that in mind, a system which identifies decisions involving important statements of principle, and thereby holding greater precedential value, plays a critical role in identifying key decisions in an otherwise saturated collection of legal authority. Now that the Queensland Reports are housed with Australia’s largest collection of authorised law reports, legal practitioners are exposed to an even greater interconnection between legislation, case law and their interpretation.
Q: How do cases included in the Queensland Reports affect other jurisdictions?
A: There is no doubt that cases included in the Queensland Reports affect other jurisdictions. Quite aside from the persuasive effect of important statements of principle by the Queensland Court of Appeal upon first instance and other intermediate appellate courts in Australia, identification of similarities and differences in the approach taken in important first instance decisions, when compared against other jurisdictions, can also be a useful tool in argument in a novel case.
Q: What is a recent landmark decision reported in Queensland that has had a wide-ranging impact on the legal industry?
A: In my view, one of the recent cases of real note is the decision in Westpac Banking Corporation v Jamieson  1 Qd R 495, involving the provision of negligent financial advice. It considers, importantly, the applicability of the traditional Potts v Miller damages in a no transaction case, and the circumstances in which the courts should consider, or hypothesise about, alternate transactions into which a plaintiff may have entered. As such, it contains important statements of principle in complex and important areas and has implications for the assessment of losses which reach far beyond the jurisdictional limits of Queensland.
Q: Finally, give us insight into what a typical day in the life of you entails…
A: I expect that life at the junior commercial bar in 2017 – and a typical day in my life – is probably much the same for all of us who have chosen a life in this world. My days are generally spent running between those who have infinitely more experience, knowledge and wisdom than me – both solicitors and barristers alike – and attempting to add some value where I am able. It is an engaging, enjoyable and demanding existence for which I am enormously grateful.
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