Queensland Law Society

Delinquent or guilty clients

20. Delinquent or guilty clients

20.1 A solicitor who, as a result of information provided by the client or a witness called on behalf of the client, learns during a hearing or after judgment or the decision is reserved and while it remains pending, that the client or a witness called on behalf of the client: 

20.1.1 has lied in a material particular to the court or has procured another person to lie to the court; 

20.1.2 has falsified or procured another person to falsify in any way a document which has been tendered; or 

20.1.3 has suppressed or procured another person to suppress material evidence upon a topic where there was a positive duty to make disclosure to the court; must – 

20.1.4 advise the client that the court should be informed of the lie, falsification or suppression and request authority so to inform the court; and 

20.1.5 refuse to take any further part in the case unless the client authorises the solicitor to inform the court of the lie, falsification or suppression and must promptly inform the court of the lie, falsification or suppression upon the client authorising the solicitor to do so but otherwise may not inform the court of the lie, falsification or suppression. 

20.2 A solicitor whose client in criminal proceedings confesses guilt to the solicitor but maintains a plea of not guilty: 

20.2.1 may cease to act, if there is enough time for another solicitor to take over the case properly before the hearing, and the client does not insist on the solicitor continuing to appear for the client; 

20.2.2 in cases where the solicitor continues to act for the client: 

(i) must not falsely suggest that some other person committed the offence charged; 

(ii) must not set up an affirmative case inconsistent with the confession; 

(iii) may argue that the evidence as a whole does not prove that the client is guilty of the offence charged; 

(iv) may argue that for some reason of law the client is not guilty of the offence charged; and 

(v) may argue that for any other reason not prohibited by (i) and (ii) the client should not be convicted of the offence charged; 

20.2.3 must not continue to act if the client insists on giving evidence denying guilt or requires the making of a statement asserting the client’s innocence. 

20.3 A solicitor whose client informs the solicitor that the client intends to disobey a court’s order must: 

20.3.1 advise the client against that course and warn the client of its dangers; 

20.3.2 not advise the client how to carry out or conceal that course; and 

20.3.3 not inform the court or the opponent of the client’s intention unless: 

(i) the client has authorised the solicitor to do so beforehand; or 

(ii) the solicitor believes on reasonable grounds that the client’s conduct constitutes a threat to any person’s safety.