A Postcard from Tasmania ➲ Outlaw Among Lawyers

11/11/2021

Tax Law

A Postcard from Tasmania ➲ Outlaw Among Lawyers

Back in 2016, I received a postcard from the father of one of my clients with a very nice note of thanks together with a copy of the book "Outlaw among Lawyers: The Peter Clyne Story". I thoroughly enjoyed the tales of Mr. Clyne's disbarment, his many attempts to be admitted back into the legal profession, battles with the ATO & time as a Magistrate in Zambia. This blog article covers some of the highlights!

James D. Ford GAICD

Founder, M.D. & General Practice Lawyer

Contents

A Postcard from a "Loose Nut" in Tasmania

The Peter Clyne Story

Disbarred for Conduct

Practicing Outlawyer

Not Licensed to Practice Law in …

The Advantages of being an Outlawyer

OutLawyer Career #1 - Eviction Service

OutLawyer Career #2 - Magistrate in Zambia

OutLawyer Career #3 - International Expert in Tax Avoidance

ATO v. Clyne

Conclusion

A Studied Eccentric

Further Reading

A Postcard from a "Loose Nut" in Tasmania

Out of the blue I received the below note of thanks written on the back of what I have described as a postcard, but is actually a photograph of the truck driven by the self-described "Loose Nut (at the wheel!)" Frank Yates.

Included was the book "Outlaw among Lawyers: The Peter Clyne Story".

Frank's kind words and the book are very much appreciated + did provide much amusement.

So much so, I am motivated to share the highlights in this blog article.

The Peter Clyne Story

There are lawyers and then there is Peter Clyne [1927-1987] who was such an outlawyer he was disbarred from the Australian legal profession at what appears was the first opportunity.

Despite 5 attempts to appeal/be readmitted Mr. Clyne was never deemed to be of sufficient moral character to return to the practice of law.

Disbarred for Conduct

Legal Career summary from Wikipedia:

"Clyne graduated in Law from the University of Sydney in 1944 with a maximum pass.
He practiced as a barrister in the New South Wales Bar Association.
On 8 December 1959 he was disbarred for his conduct of a case, for using his client as an "instrument of blackmail."
His appeal was dismissed on 21 June 1960.
He subsequently made 4 more unsuccessful attempts to gain readmission to the bar."

Practicing Outlawyer

Clyne describes himself as:

A practising outlawyer whose career became exciting, lucrative and satisfying only after he was disbarred [from the legal profession] in 1959.

The tales told in his autobiographical book are so outrageous with so many twists & turns that it is hard to believe they are all true.

A summary from Wikipedia:

Peter Leopold Clyne (24 April 1927 – 10 October 1987) was an Austrian/Australian lawyer, businessman, tax consultant and author. He was dedicated to avoiding taxes and assisted others to do the same. He wrote 21 books, mainly on the subject of tax avoidance. He was involved in numerous court actions and was convicted in the United States and Australia for false statements, and placed into bankruptcy twice in Australia.

Not Licensed to Practice Law in …

I was struck by a paragraph in the How to be an Outlawyer chapter of the book where Mr. Clyne outlines the logic behind the idea of placing on his legal looking letterhead the following statement in tiny print:

"Not registered to practice law in NEW SOUTH WALES, VICTORIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, WEST AUSTRALIA, TASMANIA, QUEENSLAND or the NORTHERN TERRITORY."

Our minds tend not to recognise the word "Not" on first impression.

Therefore, a level of subconscious trickery is afoot.

The majority of the text is what we expect to see on a legal letterhead and affords some level of comfort for which there is no basis.

Whilst it is against the law to hold oneself out as a lawyer without a licence, Mr. Clynes states that his pre-prepared defence would be as follows:

"No suggestion could then be made that I was pretending to be what I am not, which is the only thing the statute really prohibits."

The Advantages of being an Outlawyer

It is safe to say that the advantages enumerated by Mr. Clyne of being an outlawyer, are very similar to the advantages of being a criminal who skirts the law: there are no rules to follow.

In those days lawyers could not advertise. Mr. Clyne could.

He did not have to issue a "bill of costs" and included a funny example of a lawyer's bill:

"TO crossing the street and saying good morning to you          $72.50
TO crossing the street again when I discovered it wasn't you   $72.50"

Mr. Clyne knew he was fine so long as he did not break the law.

He was very confident that he knew how to stay on the right side of illegality!

OutLawyer Career #1 - Eviction Service

OutLawyer Career #2 - Magistrate in Zambia

OutLawyer Career #3 - International Expert in Tax Avoidance

ATO v. Clyne

From the inside jacket cover of the book Senator Carrick is quoted from the Adelaide Advertiser on 12 March, 1981 as saying:

"I understand it is the perennial occupation of the tax department to pursue Mr. Clyne, but I don't know what success it has had.
Mr. Clyne is renowned for his amoral attitude to life. He is not unknown to the Commonwealth Taxation department and I believe they have something less than a love-hate relationship …"

Conclusion

A Studied Eccentric

Mr. Clyne can only be described as a studied eccentric.

His string of exploits makes for the script of a novel/movie and included extravagant living combined with constant dalliances with the authorities at every turn resulting in 2 bankruptcies, stints in jail, and many court cases!

Further Reading

These are the 21 books by Mr. Clyne [mainly on the subject of tax avoidance] you might find as Mr. Yates did at the weekend market!

  • Rent control in NSW: (the beginning of the end?): a summary of the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1968 (1969)
  • Adventures in tax avoidance: (with 120 practical tax hints) (1969)
  • Practical guide to tenancy law (1970)
  • How not to pay any taxes (1970)
  • The law of meetings (1971)
  • Guilty but insane: Anglo-American attitudes to insanity and criminal guilt (1973)
  • How to use tax havens (1973)
  • An anatomy of skyjacking (1973)
  • How not to pay your debts: a handbook for scoundrels? (1973)
  • Tax free fringe benefits (1975)
  • New horizons in tax avoidance (with 236 practical tax hints) (1976)
  • Incentives, rewards and tax-free benefits for executives (1977)
  • These are the facts!! (1978)
  • How to survive a financial crisis: and then make more money than ever! (1979)
  • The new techniques of tax avoidance (1979)
  • How not to pay any taxes: a handbook for tax rebels (1979)
  • New adventures in tax avoidance (1980)
  • Peter Clyne's Tax dodgers' dictionary, or, How to out-bluff, out-hassle and out-litigate the fiscal fiend from A to Z (1980)
  • Outlaw among lawyers: the Peter Clyne story (1981)
  • How to reduce your next tax bill to twenty cents in the dollar (1982)
  • How to handle a tax dispute (1987)

Social Sharing Image: Postcard from Tasmania

Credits: This blog article was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This blog article is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.