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NSW solicitor cannot shake caution for fiery emails with client

An NSW solicitor who exchanged heated emails and texts with a client failed to have a caution about his conduct stripped from his record.

user iconNaomi Neilson 05 June 2023 Big Law
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Following a fiery night of texting his client in July 2020, Farshad Amirbeaggi was issued a caution by the Legal Services Commissioner, who found his communications were “not necessary or appropriate”.

The commissioner also ordered the legal costs charged by Mr Amirbeaggi be reduced from $5,005 to $3,000.

Mr Amirbeaggi attempted to appeal this, but the NSW Supreme Court’s Justice Paul Brereton found the commissioner’s decision was correct.


On 4 and 5 July 2020, Mr Amirbeaggi worked over the weekend to review documentation for his client and confirmed he had done so and had questions for discussion just after midnight on Monday.

As this took place, Mr Amirbeaggi’s firm sent the client a letter of engagement setting out the estimate of total fees for early resolution at $10,000 and requested he transfer $5,000 into the trust account.

On Wednesday, Mr Amirbeaggi received a text message from the client asking he “hold fire on my file”, and Mr Amirbeaggi agreed by response text almost immediately. He then attempted to contact the client twice to discuss this during business hours but with no success.

After 9pm that night, the client asked for an update on a draft letter, but Mr Amirbeaggi said he “put it down” because of the earlier request.

The client then said he was “expecting it yesterday”.

“I’m sorry what? I’m busy 20 hours a day … so please don’t expect I’ll put up with crap. I’ll close your file and take it elsewhere. I’m doing you a favour, not the other way around,” Mr Amirbeaggi responded.

At about 7am the next day, the firm terminated the file and issued a memorandum of fees by email to the client for $5,005.

Later that night, the client emailed Mr Amirbeaggi and said he was “totally bewildered” by the termination.

Mr Amirbeaggi told him he was the “author of your own misfortunate”.

Mr Amirbeaggi also told the client he was welcome to seek a costs assessment, lodge a complaint with the Legal Services Commissioner or commence proceedings because he was “happy to take you on”.

After some back and forth over whether the trust account funds would be refunded, Mr Amirbeaggi said he terminated the engagement because “of your rudeness. No other reason.”

A complaint was made to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, and the caution and cost order was eventually issued.

Mr Amirbeaggi disputed this by claiming neither party made a reasonable attempt to resolve the matter and the commissioner could not caution him on the opinion that it occurred.

However, Justice Brereton said the commissioner was satisfied there was an attempt to resolve the matter when the client told Mr Amirbeaggi he was “not looking for a fight” and did not want to make a formal complaint because he just wanted “monies to be refunded”.

“In their light, it was open to the commissioner to form the opinion … that it was not reasonable to expect [the client] to be involved in further attempts at resolution,” Justice Brereton said.

Justice Brereton said this was also supported by Mr Amirbeaggi suggesting to the commissioner after he received the notice of the complaint that he had “not the slightest inclination to compromise”.

Mr Amirbeaggi also alleged there was no attempt to settle the matter by informal means, but the commissioner offered Mr Amirbeaggi to suggest other ways “as to how this dispute could be resolved”.

Another attempt included the commissioner inviting Mr Amirbeaggi to reduce the bill, which Mr Amirbeaggi was not willing to do.

“In my opinion, therefore, the commissioner did not fail to attempt to resolve the matter by informal means,” Justice Brereton found.

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