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‘Pathetic human’: NSW solicitor insults opposing lawyer

A solicitor sent a number of unusual threats and comments to an opposing practitioner, including calling him a “pathetic human” and suggesting he would be responsible for an elderly woman’s death.

user iconNaomi Neilson 10 January 2024 Big Law
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George Sideris was found guilty of professional misconduct in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for sending correspondence directly to an opposing solicitor’s client and for sending “discourteous” correspondence to the same parties.

As it was in the context of representing his mother-in-law in a dispute with The Salvation Army (TSA) over a $100,000 refundable accommodation deposit, Mr Sideris insisted to NCAT he was not acting as a solicitor and so could not be found guilty of misconduct.

However, the tribunal said the evidence suggested he performed work that only a solicitor could do and made several references to his work as a lawyer, including working on a pro bono basis and attaching signature blocks with the title “principal”.

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The tribunal also found that despite several directions by the TSA’s solicitor at Mills Oakley to direct all correspondence to him only, Mr Sideris sent emails directly to the TSA and its staff.

The Law Society said some of this correspondence to the parties were “discourteous and plainly inappropriate”, including in making comments it said were “inappropriate, offensive and derogatory”.

“Further, the emails are not what professionals expect from one another, nor what a client might expect to receive from the practitioner on the other side of a matter,” the Law Society submitted.

In one example provided to the tribunal, Mr Sideris wrote: “I hope not or are you just trying to be a lawyer trying to think you can push people around in this silly ‘I am a lawyer b-------’”.

In another, he wrote: “In short I could say f--- off but I am too much of a gentleman trying to protect a 91 year old that needs help”.

Mr Sideris was also accused of making “baseless” allegations against the Mills Oakley solicitor, including a claim he should have “removed himself” because he had previously worked with the TSA.

There were also allegations made against the TSA that it “wants to continue to torture her to the end and just wants her to die”.

The Law Society submitted Mr Sideris had used “condescending or otherwise inappropriate language”, including telling the Mills Oakley solicitor to “not treat me like a peasant” and suggesting he was practising law while the Mills Oakley solicitor “was in diapers”.

“The solicitor’s own views were irrelevant to the outcome [his client] was entitled to agitate for in respect of the dispute meaning that where he felt ‘shame’ should lie or whether he was ‘fed up’ are simply not issues that should have found their way into the correspondence,” the tribunal determined.

The majority of Mr Sideris’ correspondence was sent after the Mills Oakley solicitor told him it was “not appropriate” to use such language and asked him to comply with the “Solicitors’ Rules regarding communications between practitioners”.

As comments were made after the warning, the tribunal determined it could be “characterised as deliberate and wilful”.

A further hearing will be held to determine the penalty.

Naomi Neilson

Naomi Neilson

Naomi Neilson is a senior journalist with a focus on court reporting for Lawyers Weekly. 

You can email Naomi at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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