Own motion investigations
What is an own motion investigation
Section 435 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) allows the Commissioner to start an investigation without having received a complaint if the Commissioner 'believes an investigation about a matter should be started'. The Act refers to these investigations as 'investigation matters' but they are more commonly known as ‘own motion’ investigations.
The ‘investigation matter’ power is an important power given the Commission’s most fundamental purposes are to protect the rights of legal consumers and to promote high standards of conduct among lawyers and law firms.
Decision to commence an own motion investigationWe need to be clear, that the Commissioner doesn’t (and can’t) initiate an investigation matter on a whim. We have published a policy on the factors we will take into account in deciding when to commence an own motion investigation matter.
An own motion investigation may be started as a result of information received from:
- a compliance audit of an incorporated legal practice;
- a trust account investigation;
- a report from a court or tribunal about a lawyer’s conduct in the course of proceedings;
- a report about a lawyer’s conduct from the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Queensland Police Service, the Office of Fair Trading or other like agency;
- a report in the media about a lawyer or other person over whom we have jurisdiction;
- a review of advertisements for law firms and law firm websites for compliance with the restrictions on the advertising of personal injury services; and
- anonymous sources.
In keeping with our overall strategy we use our own motion investigation powers to target ‘problem’ practices, especially practices that appear to be widespread, which put consumers at risk – practices we have prioritised as headline issues.