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The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) commenced on 1 December 2009 and took over the roles and functions previously performed (from 1 July 2004) by the former Legal Practice Tribunal. 

The Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) gives the Legal Services Commission Queensland power to initiate and prosecute discipline applications in QCAT to apply for orders finding lawyers guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and/or professional misconduct and impose an appropriate penalty.

QCAT (the tribunal) is constituted for purposes of hearing discipline applications under the Act by ‘a judicial member who is a Supreme Court judge’, usually the President but sometimes another judge of the Supreme Court or a former Supreme Court judge.

The judge is helped by a barrister or solicitor member (as the case may be) of a practitioner panel comprising barristers and solicitors who have held a practising certificate for at least five years and a member of a lay panel comprising non-lawyers who have ‘high level experience and knowledge of consumer protection, business, public administration or another relevant area.’  The members of the lay and practitioner panels are appointed by the Governor in Council.

The Act requires that hearings must be open to the public unless the tribunal directs that a hearing or a part of a hearing be closed, and it authorises the tribunal, if the tribunal is satisfied that a lawyer has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, to make ‘any order as it sees fit’ including orders  that:

  • the lawyer’s name be removed from the roll (i.e., that the lawyer be ‘struck off’);
  • the lawyer be suspended from practice or be allowed to practice only subject to certain conditions (including that the lawyer engages in legal practice only under supervision);
  • the lawyer pay a penalty of up to $100,000;
  • the lawyer be publicly (or in special circumstances, privately) reprimanded;
  • the lawyer undertake and complete a course of further legal education or ‘do or refrain from doing something in connection with engaging in legal practice’;
  • the lawyer’s law practice reduce or waive its fees or provide stated legal services without a fee or for a stated fee or, if the lawyer’s unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct has caused a complainant to suffer pecuniary loss, pay the complainant compensation of up to $7500.

The Act requires the tribunal to order lawyers it finds guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional conduct to pay the Commissioner’s costs unless it is satisfied that ‘exceptional circumstances exist’.

The Minister, the Commissioner, respondent lawyers and other parties who are dissatisfied with a decision of the Tribunal can appeal the decision in the Court of Appeal. 

Last reviewed
10 February 2015
Last updated
10 February 2015

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