The Legal Services Commissioner is the sole body authorised under the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) to receive and deal with complaints about lawyers, law practice employees and unlawful operators. The Commissioner also has responsibility for dealing with complaints about, or otherwise investigating possible breaches of the ‘touting’ provisions and the restrictions on the advertising of personal injury services under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. The Commissioner is responsible for ensuring complaints are dealt with thoroughly, fairly and transparently.
The Legal Services Commission is unable to deal with all complaints it may receive. Some complaints are simply beyond the powers given to the Commissioner under the Legal Profession Act 2007 and are beyond the Commission's jurisdiction.
The Commission deals with a complaint based on the nature of the complaint. The Commission may investigate complaints or where deemed appropriate, refer them to the Queensland Law Society (QLS) or the Bar Association of Queensland (BAQ).
From 1 September 2015 by agreement with the QLS all complaints previously referred to the QLS will now be investigated by the Office of the Legal Services Commission. The Commission still continues to refer matters to the BAQ.
Whilst the Queensland Law Society (QLS) and Bar Association of Queensland (BAQ) play a role in investigating complaints, the Commissioner oversees and, where necessary, directs these investigations.
Where the Commissioner refers a complaint to one of these professional bodies for investigation, they are required to report back to the Commissioner who will then review their findings and recommendations before deciding what action, if any, to take. It is only the Commissioner who can decide what action to take on a complaint after investigation.
When the evidence warrants it, the Commissioner will initiate disciplinary proceedings in one of two disciplinary bodies; the Legal Practice Committee (LPC) or, for more serious matters, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).