Poor old Fairfax, they can’t take a trick. First it was recruitment advertising.Â Then real estate.Â Then cars.Â Their once mighty rivers of gold have dried up faster than the Coorong in summer, and yet, every dark cloud has a silver lining for those optimistic Fairfax types.Â As one of their now ex-corporate footsoldiers told VEXNEWS barely a year ago, “We’ve still got Law notices.Â It’s not the biggest fish there is, but nothing in the newspaper business is more profitable.”
Alas, they should have kept their mouth shut.Â The Age’s law notices business will evaporate before their eyes this year, and not just diminish, but fall away to zero.Â Â Hilariously, the pole-axing hasn’t come about through the work of a competitor, or Fairfax’s incompetence, but from an altogether unexpected direction.Â The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as it turns out.Â Oh, the irony.
An eagle-eyed follower of all things legal has sent us the following link to the Supreme Court’s website which went up in the first week of March.Â It’s an extraordinary development which will have sent a chill down the spine of commercial types at The Age, who are getting ready to move into their new, 21st century shoebox, just two blocks away from the Supreme Court.Â It seems the Supreme Court has decided to set up its own Law Notices publishing service.Â Online.Â
See the link below, where the Court recently advised that:Â
“From 2 March 2009 until 1 September 2009, a dual advertising system for the publication of advertisements in Victoria will be in place. During this period, practitioners and court users can advertise on the Court’s website or by newspaper in the traditional way. From 2 September 2009 all advertisements, save and except those referred to below, must be advertised on this website.”
See more for yourself at this link.Â
Here at VEXNEWS, this development has an odd look to it.Â We understand that the process of placing probate notices – and other legal processes -Â in the newspaper has been a obligation on law firms determined by the Courts themselves for more than a century.Â Now we have the situation where lawyers still have to place a notice in a public place advising of the granting of probate, but instead of using a newspaper, law firms are compelled to advertise the granting of probate on the Court’s own website.Â For $35 a pop. Cute.Â A nice little earner for the Court we reckon, although not as nice an earner as law notices was for The Age.
By our estimates, Law Notices for The Age currently represents somewhere between $3 and 4 million per year in revenue with profitability upwards of the 50% mark.Â We guess that’s not a lot when The Age’s revenues are still somewhere between $250 and $300 million per year, but, still a big hole in the bottom line when you’re talking about something so eye-wateringly profitable.
Ouch. We almost felt sorry for Fairfax when we heard about this development.Â
But then we thought about Catherine Deveny, Lawrence Money, Suzanne Carbone and others like them, and it occurred to us that if this inexorable revenue slide keeps up, one day, people like this might actually have to find real jobs.
And it occurred to us that perhaps our Courts are wise, just and equitable after all.