The Legal Services Commission was established in 2004 and continues its existence pursuant to the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act). As an independent statutory body, the Commission has the power to regulate the legal profession, including receiving and, where appropriate, investigating complaints about the conduct of lawyers, their employees, and unlawful operators in relation to the provision of legal services in Queensland.
The Legal Services Commissioner acts as an independent statutory officer and investigates the complaints received by the Commission. At the conclusion of an investigation, the Commissioner must make a decision whether or not to file a discipline application.
A Discipline Application is a document submitted by the Legal Services Commissioner to either the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) or the Legal Practice Committee (LPC), to commence disciplinary proceedings against a legal practitioner or their employee.
A discipline application is a document submitted by the Legal Services Commissioner to either the QCAT or Legal Practice Committee, to commence disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer or their employee. The application sets out the details of the lawyer’s (or employee’s) conduct which, in the Commissioner’s assessment, amounts to professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct.
The Commissioner acts as an independent statutory officer and investigates complaints received. At the conclusion of an investigation, the Commissioner must make a decision whether or not to file a discipline application.
The Commissioner commences disciplinary action for the protection of the public and not on behalf of an individual complainant.
Before the Commissioner can file a discipline application against a lawyer or law practice employee the Commissioner must be satisfied that:
- the evidence obtained during the investigation is sufficient to establish a reasonable likelihood of finding that the respondent’s conduct was either unsatisfactory professional conduct and/or professional misconduct, and
- it is in the public interest to do.
The Commission has prepared guidelines that include a description of how these decisions are reached. A copy of the guidelines can be found on the Commission’s website.
Once the decision to prosecute has been made, the Commissioner will file a discipline application with either the QCAT or Legal Practice Committee. After filing the discipline application, a copy will be served on the respondent. The Commissioner will also send a letter to the person who made the complaint (the complainant) informing them of the decision to prosecute and attaching a copy of the discipline application.
A directions hearing may then be held once the discipline application is served. The purpose of the directions hearing is to:
- determine the issues in dispute
- determine the anticipated length of the hearing
- establish a timetable for when material is required to be filed.
When the Commissioner and the respondent have prepared their respective cases, the discipline application will be listed for hearing. The parties will then prepare for hearing.
QCAT and the Legal Practice Committee do not have regular sittings. Both parties will be notified of the hearing date by either the Registrar of the QCAT or the Secretariat of the Legal Practice Committee.
If the respondent is not contesting the application, it has become the practice of both the QCAT and the Legal Practice Committee to receive any written submissions prior to the hearing date. This assists with the application being determined quickly on the hearing date.
Legal Practice Committee
QCAT hears discipline applications in hearing rooms at the Bank of Queensland Building located at Level 9, 259 Queen Street, Brisbane
The LPC hears discipline applications in hearing rooms at several court locations around Brisbane.