Complaints can be made about the conduct of current and former solicitors, barristers and law practice employees.
Complaints can also be made about an "unlawful operator"; that is, a person who engages (or advertises that they engage) in legal practice when they are not entitled to do so.
Before lodging a written complain, try to consider less formal ways to resolve the issue or concern.
For example, an issue about the way the matter is being managed by a legal practitioner may be resolved by talking directly to the person concerned or a more senior person at the same firm.
Disputes about issues such as communication with the lawyer, delays in dealing with instructions, or legal costs, can sometimes be resolved by negotiation.
Generally, the Commission accepts complaints about conduct that has occurred within the past three years. Only in certain circumstances will matters older than three years be reviewed.
The staff at the Legal Services Commission may be able to answer queries or provide minor assistance on how to complete the Complaint Form. Commission staff can also arrange telephone interpreters.
The Legal Services Commission cannot provide legal advice.
There is no charge to lodge a complaint with the Legal Services Commission.
Legal practitioners should not charge for the time it takes them to respond to the complaint.
The Commissioner takes the view that legal practitioners are obliged to respond to any complaint against them, and that complainants should not be out of pocket for exercising their entitlement to complain.
Complaints to the Legal Services Commission are confidential and only those parties involved in the dispute or complaint are privy to the information.
Please note however that in most instances, complaints are sent to the legal practitioner or law practice employee named in the complaint to give them an opportunity to respond.
The information provided to the Legal Services Commission is dealt with in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009 and Legal Profession Act 2007. See Protection of Information.
Complaints to the Legal Services Commission can be withdrawn at any time either in person, by phone or in writing.
Please be aware that withdrawing a complaint does not prevent the Commissioner from taking action on matters raised in the complaint. See Own Motion Investigations.
Complainants are fully within their rights to make a complaint to the Commission. There is an absolute defence to any defamation action that might be threatened or taken against a complainant provided the complaint was made genuinely and in good faith.
Making a complaint may alter the relationship with the legal practitioner. Be sure the complaint is accurate and focused on the conduct of the practitioner and not the practitioner personally.
Legal practitioners may be changed at any time, regardless of whether a complaint has been made against them or not.
Consider whether changing practitioner is in your best interests.
It is likely the legal practitioner will require any monies owing to be paid before they will release your file.
Additional expense may also be incurred when hiring a new legal practitioner.
Consider seeking independent legal advice before making a decision.
This will depend on the nature of the complaint. The more complex or serious the matter, the longer it may take to investigate.
All complaints received by the Legal Services Commission are dealt with as quickly, thoroughly and fairly as possible.
If you have any concerns about how your matter is being handled, please contact the Legal Services Commission.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) and the Legal Practice Committee (LPC) can both make a compensation order if they find the legal practitioner's conduct was either 'unsatisfactory professional conduct' or 'professional misconduct' and this caused the complainant to suffer pecuniary (money) loss as a result of that conduct. See Compensation Orders.