Queensland Law Society

High Court decision clarifies lawyer obligations

The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal from a decision of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holding that a solicitor did not owe a duty of care to a beneficiary under a will to advise the testator of the options available to the testator to avoid exposing his estate to a claim under the Testator’s Family Maintenance Act 1912 (Tas) (“the TFM Act”).

Queensland Law Society deputy president Christine Smyth said that the decision was good for testators and would assist in achieving the outcome that the testator wishes to achieve.

“This decision means the testator’s solicitor – as their advisor – can focus on protecting their interests,” she said.

“The focus should always be on the testator’s interest and the solicitor should not be distracted by the interests of other parties in an estate. In this way, it is assured that the client’s best interests are being served.”

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