These are complaints that allege unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
Unsatisfactory professional conduct is conduct that happens 'in connection with the practice of law 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’. See Legal Profession Act 2007 section 418.
Unsatisfactory professional conduct complaints might be about:
- poor service
- a failure to comply with an undertaking
- a failure to adequately supervise an employee such as a conveyancing clerk
- threatening, abusive or offensive language
- failure to follow instructions (due to poor communication, for example).
See Legal Profession Act 2007 sections 420, 425 and Chapter 4 generally.
Professional misconduct is either ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct which involves a substantial or consistent failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence’ or conduct ‘happening whether in connection with the practice of law or happening otherwise than in connection with the practice of law that would, if established, justify a finding that the practitioner is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice’. See Legal Profession Act 2007 section 419.
Professional misconduct complaints might be about:
- consistent or substantial unsatisfactory professional conduct
- fraud or misappropriation
- gross overcharging
- gross negligence
- conflicts of interest
- acting contrary to instructions
- misleading or dishonest conduct whether in or outside court.
See Legal Profession Act 2007 sections 420, 423, 425 and Chapter 4 generally.
Professional misconduct can also include being convicted of a serious criminal offence, a tax offence or an offence involving dishonesty, or being disqualified from managing or being involved in the management of a corporation under the Corporations Act.