Making a complaint

Please read the information below carefully before making a complaint. It may also be helpful to view the 'Before making a complaint' video

If your complaint is about the legal costs you have been charged, please read the information on Complaints about legal costs before completing and submitting a Complaint Form.

Please also see the video 'Before making a complaint' for additional guidance on the things to consider before making a complaint.

All complaints to the Legal Services Commission must be in writing using the approved Complaint Form.

Please contact the Legal Services Commission if you would like a Complaint Form sent to you.

Telephone

Email

The Legal Services Commissioner is responsible for receiving complaints about the conduct of lawyers and their employees. The Commissioner acts as an independent statutory officer. Anyone can make a complaint.

If you have a complaint about a legal officer employed by government, you must raise your concern with the chief executive officer of that government department or agency. A complaint about a government legal officer can only be made by government chief executive officers, the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association of Queensland or by other Australian lawyers.

The regulatory scheme under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) enables the Commissioner to moderate consumer disputes or to investigate a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct which is capable of amounting to professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct.

So what do these words mean?

The Act says unsatisfactory professional conduct includes “conduct that falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent Australian legal practitioner”.

It says professional misconduct includes a substantial or consistent failure to reach that same standard. This is generally more serious and less likely to be a ‘one-off’, accidental oversight or failure.

It is only when a lawyer’s conduct fails within either of these statutory descriptions that the Commissioner has any power to consider whether disciplinary action should be taken.

Consider trying to resolve any issues or concerns before lodging a formal written complaint. For example:

  • Where possible, talk directly to the person concerned.
  • Raise your concern with a more senior person at the same firm.
  • Contact Legal Services Commission staff for an informal discussion around possible options. This may assist with resolving the issue or concern informally.

All complaints to the Legal services Commission must be in writing using the correct form.

If you are having difficulty completing the complaint form, staff at the Commission may be able to assist you or arrange telephone interpreters or other assistance.

Note: There is no charge to lodge a complaint.
Completing the Complaint Form

Written complaints must identify the person making the complaint and the lawyer or law practice employee mentioned in the complaint. The complaint must also describe the conduct being complained about. The more detail provided will assist the Commission in assessing the complaint.

The Declaration must also be signed and all relevant documents attached and submitted with the form.

Important:  Do not send original documents.

Important: Please read the Complaint Form carefully before completing and submitting it to the Legal Services Commission.

Completed Complaints Forms and attachments may be sent to the Legal Services Commission by:

Post
Legal Services Commission
PO Box 10310
Brisbane Adelaide Street Qld 4001

Email
lsc@lsc.qld.gov.au
A reply email will automatically be generated from this account confirming receipt of your Form.

Facsimile
07 3564 7700

Hand Delivered
Level 30
400 George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000

Important

Completed Forms with numerous attachments are to be sent to the Legal Services Commission by post.

The Commission is unable to accept Complaint Forms received via an online storage service such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Icloud, Google Drive etc.

Once a complaint is lodged with the Commission:

  • The Commission will assess the information provided and decide the next steps. If further information is needed, someone will contact you.
  • The complaint will be classified as either a consumer dispute or a conduct complaint.
  • The Commissioner must investigate conduct matters or alternatively refer them to the Queensland Law Society or Bar Association of Queensland for investigation. The Commissioner is the final decision-maker regardless of who conducts the investigation.
  • Once an investigation is completed, the Commissioner will decide either:
    • to take no further action on the complaint, or
    • to start disciplinary proceedings against the lawyer subject to the complaint.

A complaint can take time to process depending on the complexity and seriousness of the complaint and length of investigation. All complaints received by the Commission are dealt with thoroughly, fairly and as quickly as possible.

See also The Complaint and Investigation Process

CAN

CANNOT

Making a complaint can alter the relationship with the lawyer.

The Commission cannot compel a solicitor to reduce an account or refund any monies. the Commission  cannot prevent a lawyer from commencing legal proceedings against you to recover fees that have not been paid. Lodging a complaint with the Commission will not delay or alter any proceedings already commenced.

Complaints to the Commission are confidential; however a copy of the  complaint may be sent to the lawyer in question so they can respond.

Lawyers must not charge for the time it takes them to respond to a complaint.

Complaints may be withdrawn in writing; however withdrawal does not prevent the Commissioner taking further action.

Complainants should not be out of pocket for making a complaint.

Another lawyer may be engaged at any time whether a complaint has been made or not.

 

Compensation may be claimable

Is there a time limit on making complaints?

Generally the Commissioner will not investigate complaints where the conduct of the lawyer or law practice employee occurred more than three years ago.

Can complaints be made about interstate lawyers?

Generally the Commission would refer complaints about interstate lawyers to the governing body in that state or territory.

What happens once the Commissioner completes an investigation?

The Commissioner will assess all the evidence gathered during the investigation and decide if there is “a reasonable likelihood” a disciplinary body will find the lawyer’s conduct to be either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct and if it is in the public interest to prosecute that lawyer.

If both conditions are satisfied, the Commissioner will initiate disciplinary proceedings and prosecute the lawyer before either the Legal Practice Committee or the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

If the matter goes to the Committee or Tribunal, the person who made the complaint may be required to give evidence. See Discipline Applications.

The Commission will endeavour to keep complainants informed about how the investigation is progressing.

What if I am not satisfied with the Commission’s decision about my complaint?

Feedback can be provided to the Commission. See Providing Feedback to the Commission