How the complaints process works
Once a complaint is lodged with the NSW Legal Services Commissioner (the Commissioner), the Commissioner may:
- Conduct a preliminary assessment or investigation of the complaint
- Attempt informal resolution of the complaint
- refer it to the Law Society Council for preliminary assessment, investigation or determination, or
- decide to close it,
- make a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct and appropriate orders or
- refer it to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for determination if the Commissioner is of the opinion that the conduct amounts to professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct more appropriately dealt with by NCAT.
More information can be found on the complaint process section on the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner’s website.
When does the Law Society of NSW deal with complaints?
The Commissioner may refer a complaint to the Law Society Council for preliminary assessment, investigation and determination. If the Commissioner refers the complaint to the Law Society Council, the Law Society’s Professional Standards Department will assign an investigator to the case.
If a complaint is referred, both the solicitor and the complainant receive notification from the Professional Standards Department and regular updates about the progress of the complaint.
The complaint will be subject to preliminary assessment. Further information may be sought from the complainant at this stage. Following the preliminary assessment, the complaint may be closed by the Law Society Council’s Professional Conduct Committee.
For further details see the Professional Standards Department's Complaints Process Information Brochure.
How does the investigation process work?
The Professional Standards Department investigators must ascertain whether support for the statements of the complainant and the solicitor exists, and if so, obtain those supporting documents or statements from the complainant, solicitor or other witnesses.
Once the investigation is complete the investigator will report the facts and evidence of the case to the Professional Conduct Committee.
What does the Professional Conduct Committee do?
The Law Society Council’s Professional Conduct Committee will review each complaint and can decide:
- to request further investigation
- to close the complaint against the solicitor
- that the solicitor has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct and make appropriate orders, or
- to refer it to NCAT for determination if the Professional Conduct Committee is of the opinion that the conduct amounts to professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct more appropriately dealt with by NCAT.