On this page:
How can I make a complaint
You can make a complaint either in writing or online.
To print a hard copy of the complaint form, click complaint form . Alternatively ring us on 07 3406 7737 (or if you are ringing from outside Brisbane, on 1300 655 754) to ask us to send you a copy by post or collect a copy from the Commission's office (see contact details).
To make and submit a complaint online, click online complaint form. The online form will prompt you to give us the information we need to deal with your complaint.
Whether you make a complaint online or in writing, you must identify who you are and, if you can, the legal practitioner or other person you are complaining about. You must also describe the conduct you are complaining about. The more detail you can provide, the better.
To print a hard copy of the complaint form, click complaint form . Alternatively ring us on 3406 7737 (or if you are ringing from outside Brisbane, on 1300 655 754) to ask us to send you a copy by post or collect a copy from the Commission's office (see contact details).
Please remember to sign the declaration on the back of the complaint form, and attach photocopies of any relevant documentation. Do not send us the original documents.
Complaints about legal costs
The Commission's role in relation to complaints
The Commission receives and deals with complaints about the conduct of other people too—people who purport to be lawyers, for example, when they are not. The Commissioner is responsible for ensuring complaints are dealt with thoroughly, fairly and transparently.
Importantly, the Commissioner can also initiate an investigation of his own accord in cases of possible unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct. The Commissioner also has responsibility for dealing with complaints about, or otherwise investigating possible breaches of the ‘touting’ provisions and the restrictions on the advertising of personal injury services under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002.
The Commission is the sole body authorised under the Act to receive and deal with complaints about lawyers and law practice employees but we don’t, and can’t deal with all and any complaints we may receive—some complaints are simply beyond the powers given to us under the Act and are beyond our jurisdiction.
We decide how to deal with a complaint based on the nature of the complaint. We try to mediate complaints we assess to be consumer disputes, but we must investigate complaints we assess to be conduct complaints—that is to say, complaints which, if proven, would show that a lawyer's conduct amounted to either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct (see Types of complaints).
We can either mediate or investigate complaints ourselves or decide to refer them for mediation or investigation to the Queensland Law Society or the Bar Association of Queensland.
Importantly, while the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland play an important role in investigating complaints, the Commissioner oversees and, where necessary, directs these investigations. If the Commissioner refers a complaint to one of these professional bodies for investigation, they are required to report back to the Commissioner who will then review their findings and recommendations before deciding what action, if any, to take on the complaint. The Commissioner and the Commissioner alone can decide what action to take on a complaint after investigation.
When the evidence warrants it, the Commissioner will initiate disciplinary proceedings in one of two disciplinary bodies; the Legal Practice Committee or, for more serious matters, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) (see The Queensland disciplinary bodies).
What the Commission does
The Legal Services Commission:
- answers enquiries about making a complaint against a legal practitioner or law practice employee. We can answer questions about how complaints are dealt with and, if you need assistance, can help you to fill in the complaint form
- receives complaints from legal consumers, other legal practitioners and the Queensland Law Society or Bar Association of Queensland about the conduct of legal practitioners and law practice employees
- decides whether it has legislative authority to deal with a complaint and, if the answer is yes, assesses it as either a consumer dispute or a conduct complaint (see below for the sorts of complaints the Commission does not accept)
- mediates or otherwise tries to resolve consumer disputes or refers them to the Queensland Law Society or Bar Association of Queensland for mediation or resolution
- investigates conduct complaints or refers them to the Queensland Law Society or Bar Association of Queensland for investigation
- initiates investigations of its own accord, in the absence of a complaint, if the Commissioner believes an investigation is warranted
- oversees how the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland investigate referred conduct complaints, reviews their findings and recommendations, and decides what further action should be taken
- initiates disciplinary proceedings against legal practitioners if, after investigation, there is a ‘reasonable likelihood of a finding by a disciplinary body of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct’ and ‘it is in the public interest to do so’. The Commissioner prosecutes them before the Legal Practice Committee or, for more serious matters, the Legal Practice Tribunal (see factsheet 6 Disciplinary hearings ).
What the Commission might or might not do
The Commission may or may not accept complaints about conduct that happened more than three years ago. We will only investigate complaints of this kind if:
- the alleged conduct, if proven, would amount to professional misconduct, and
- there are good reasons for the delay in making the complaint, and
- it is fair and reasonable and in the public interest for the complaint to be investigated.
What the Commission does not do
The Commission does not:
- give legal advice or provide legal representation—complainants need to seek their own legal advice about what civil remedies are available to them (for legal advice, contact Legal Aid Queensland, the Queensland Public Interest Clearing House or the Queensland Law Society referral service).
- accept complaints that are frivolous or vexatious, or complaints that have been dealt with previously when there is no good reason to reconsider the matter.
- accept complaints about the conduct of an individual if, at the time, they were not acting as a legal practitioner or law practice employee but in some other capacity such as an investment adviser, immigration agent or member of parliament.
- accept complaints about decisions of courts or tribunals or review past proceedings in courts or tribunals. The Commission is not an alternative means of appeal. Complainants who are unhappy about decisions of courts or tribunals should seek independent legal advice about their prospects of successfully appealing those decisions in a higher court.
- accept complaints about government legal officers unless the complaint is made by the chief executive officer of the government department or agency that employs them, the Queensland Law Society or the Bar Association of Queensland, or another legal practitioner.
- have power to decide whether legal practitioners have overcharged their clients or alternatively whether their fees were fair and reasonable. For more information go to the factsheet Legal Costs - your right to know.
- have power to decide whether legal practitioners have been negligent (see factsheet Negligence ). The disciplinary scheme under the Legal Profession Act 2007 is not intended to be an alternative forum to the courts for hearing and deciding claims of negligence against lawyers. The Commission might consider taking disciplinary action against legal practitioners who have been obviously and demonstrably negligent but, generally speaking, legal consumers who believe their lawyers have been negligent will have to take them to court to prove they were negligent and should take independent legal advice accordingly. As a rule the Commission will consider taking disciplinary action only after negligence has been proved in a court.
Having said that, there are some circumstances in which the Commission might be able to help legal consumers who believe their lawyer was negligent. It might be possible to resolve things to both the consumers and their lawyer’s satisfaction in circumstances in which, for example, the practitioner has made an honest or careless mistake of some kind such as losing a title deed or miscalculating a rates adjustment in a conveyance. In the Commission’s opinion, practitioners in these circumstances should be expected to make good their mistake.