Lawyer struck off legal roll

ONE Tasmanian barrister was struck off the roll of legal practitioners last financial year after multiple complaints against him were made to the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania.

The board's annual report, released last week, shows that Peter Andrew Warmbrunn was the only lawyer to lose his  licence to practise among the 99 complaints the board dealt with in 2011-12.

Of those 99, 13 complaints were made in the North, eight in the North-West, 37 in the south and six outside  Tasmania.

Just over half of the complaints were dismissed or withdrawn without an investigation, and 34 per cent were dismissed or withdrawn after an investigation.

In three cases the lawyer in question was found guilty of unprofessional conduct: two were cautioned or reprimanded, and the other was admonished and fined.

The board also brought nine complaints to the disciplinary tribunal, of which seven related to a single practitioner.

``Of those nine complaints, one (lawyer) was ultimately struck from the local roll  by the Supreme Court,'' the report states.

While there were 325 initial inquiries made to the board about complaints - up 10 per cent on 2010-11 - the number of written complaints, 64, was down from 103 the previous year.

The board can only consider a complaint once it is made in writing.

The drop in complaints allowed the board to reduce its backlog from 104 down to 69.

Most complaints related to a failure to act or comply with an instruction, dishonest or misleading conduct or fees. 

Just over half of the court cases  for which the lawyer was engaged  related to family law or wills or estates.

As of June 30, there were still 69 complaints outstanding. Of those, 30 were under investigation and 22 had been referred for a hearing.

Board chairman William Bale said mediation was used where possible and appropriate.

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