Policy – Complaints by solicitors about solicitors
Around 15% of complaints made each year are made by one solicitor about another solicitor.
Very often, solicitors are best placed to identify whether the conduct of other solicitors breaches professional standards. These complaints are a potential source of information for the Department in identifying where it may need to take regulatory action.
However, many of these solicitor v solicitor complaints are unmeritorious, or raise matters that are better dealt with between the solicitors themselves. In some cases, the complaints are made for tactical purposes.
The Department has released a new policy that explains how it will deal with complaints made by one solicitor about another. You can access the policy here.
The new policy aims to:
1. Clearly identify the types of complaints from solicitors the Council is likely to consider as warranting further action.
2. Remind solicitors of their ethical obligation under rule 32 of the Legal Profession Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2015 not to make unfounded allegations;
3. Set out the options available for solicitors to resolve matters between themselves, including services provided by the Law Society.
The Policy highlights that solicitors should focus on maintaining positive relationships with all their colleagues, and lodging a complaint should not be the first option in attempting to resolve an issue or dispute.
The first port of call should always be self-resolution. Solicitors may also wish to draw on the support available from the Law Society including the Professional Support Unit (which includes the Ethics Unit) who provide guidance to solicitors on ethical and regulatory issues.