Counsel's Chambers Limited - historical background

Counsel's Chambers Limited (‘CCL') was incorporated by the NSW Bar Association on 24 October 1952.

Until June 1980, CCL and the Bar Association shared offices and staff. By 1980 the bar had grown significantly and as CCL membership represented only about 60% of the bar, it was decided that CCL should be administered independently. New offices for CCL were built adjacent to the Bar Association's offices on the Lower Ground Floor of Selborne Chambers. In December 1992 CCL relocated its offices to the 1st Floor, Selborne Chambers.

Wentworth Land Lease

The original 99 year crown lease for the Wentworth Chambers land commenced on 1 January 1954 and construction of the new building was completed in May 1957. Wentworth Chambers was officially opened on 20 August, 1957.

It has long been the intention of CCL to purchase the freehold of the site of Wentworth Chambers if possible. Early in 1961 CCL applied in writing to be granted an option to purchase the reversion at a price to be ascertained by valuation of the Valuer-General. After many discussions with CCL the Hon. R. R. Downing, M.L.C., then Attorney-General, submitted for the consideration of Cabinet of the day, a recommendation that approval in principle be given to CCL's application. On 15 May, 1962 Cabinet approved the proposal and the preparation of the necessary amending legislation. Sadly, the legislation was not introduced at that time and the proposal

didn't proceed. Many approaches were made over time to the Government of the day, but were of no avail.

In late 1995 the NSW State Government announced that the Wentworth freehold was to be sold by tender. After obtaining advice from CCL's valuers, auditors and solicitors, and the convening of an Extraordinary General Meeting to obtain the approval of Shareholders, CCL submitted a tender. The bid was rejected as were all other bids, as the Government had a change of heart and decided to retain the freehold.

Subsequently, the Government offered a 99 year lease of the Wentworth land for sale by tender, even though CCL's lease still had 58 years to run. CCL submitted a tender which was successful. Consequently, in 1996 the term of the lease was extended by 42 years, with the lease now due to expire in 2095. Under the terms of the new lease, the obligation to pay rent, other than nominal rent, was extinguished.

Wentworth and Selborne Chambers Wentworth and Selborne Chambers
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