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Tasmanian lawyer accused of pressuring woman to drop assault charges

A Tasmanian lawyer was accused of putting pressure on a woman to withdraw common assault charges against his client.

user iconNaomi Neilson 16 August 2023 Big Law
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Update: The decision of Justice Geason was appealed and in the decision of the Full Court of the Supreme Court in Legal Profession Board of Tasmania v Glynn Williams [2023] TASFC 1 ,delivered on the 8 March 2023, a finding of professional misconduct was substituted by the Full Court in place of the finding by Justice Geason. In the decision at first instance , Legal Profession Board of Tasmania v Glynn Williams [2022] TASSC 46 Geason J had made a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct.

In a recently updated judgment, the Supreme Court of Tasmania found solicitor Glynn Williams guilty of unprofessional conduct for writing to an opposing practitioner to offer a settlement on the condition the other party withdraw an assault complaint made to police or stop cooperating with the prosecution.

The parties were in the midst of a dispute over matrimonial property, and Mr Glynn had been acting on behalf of the ex-husband.


At the time the letters were sent, Mr Glynn was aware the ex-husband had been charged with one count of perverting the course of justice for earlier sending a letter offering a similar settlement of their property with the same request to withdraw her complaint.

In response to an investigator with the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania, Mr Glynn said the offers “were not improper when viewed in the proper context” and alleged the ex-wife had used “threats of giving false statements to police … against my client”.

“The purpose of the offer was to have [the ex-wife] desist from making false statements, not have her desist from making a valid complaint to police,” Mr Glynn said in his email.

“I accept the appearance of the offer may be construed otherwise, but from my perspective, I was not (and nor was my client) trying to stifle [the ex-wife’s] legitimate recourse in the courts.”

Justice Gregory Geason said in the context of Mr Glynn’s role as a solicitor, “the conduct has a complexion which might not ordinarily be applied to similar behaviour by a non-legally trained person”.

Justice Geason said that while Mr Glynn believed he was acting on his client’s instructions, “to my mind, that makes no material difference”.

“Legal practitioners are not robots merely putting the instructions of their clients. As officers of the court to whom the paramount duty is owed, they are expected to apply considered judgment not just to the way in which the client’s instructions are put, but whether those instructions are put at all,” Justice Geason said.

While satisfied Mr Glynn was guilty of unprofessional conduct, Justice Geason did not agree with the board’s submissions that the court should find him guilty of professional misconduct.

He said that while Mr Glynn’s conduct was “incompetent”, it was “not dishonourable or disgraceful”.

“His conduct was not hidden, or underhand, did not exhibit dishonesty, and was not undertaken in bad faith. It was directed to an experienced fellow practitioner, a fact which exposes his ignorance of the seriousness of what he was doing,” Justice Geason said.

Mr Glynn was reprimanded and ordered to undertake a course in legal ethics and professional responsibilities.

The judgment was originally published without Mr Glynn's name.