The Legal Services Commissioner is the sole body authorised under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) to receive and deal with complaints about lawyers, law practice employees and unlawful operators. 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 Commissioner is responsible for ensuring complaints are dealt with thoroughly, fairly and transparently.
However, we 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.
Importantly, the Commissioner can also initiate an investigation of his own accord.
We decide how to deal with a complaint based on the nature of the complaint. We can investigate complaints ourselves or where deemed appropriate refer them to the Queensland Law Society (QLS) or the Bar Association of Queensland (BAQ). However as from 1 September 2015 by agreement with the QLS all complaints will now be investigated by this office. We do however continue to refer matters at our discretion to the BAQ.
Whilst the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland play a 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).