The Law Society has a statutory obligation to maintain and improve the professional standards of the legal profession and to protect the public from inadequate advice and representation. These obligations are fulfilled in various ways – through education, investigation, intervention and support.
The Law Society investigates complaints against solicitors, unqualified practitioners and associates of legal practice.
The Law Society ensures solicitors are ‘fit and proper’ persons for legal practice and undertakes litigation for complaints referred to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Courts.
How is a complaint made?
All complaints about solicitors must be made to the ACT Law Society.
The complaint must:
- be made in writing (but not email) within three years of the date on which the conduct complained about occurred
- identify the complainant
- identify the individual against whom the complaint is made, and
- describe the alleged conduct that is the subject of the complaint.
What type of conduct can be complained about?
There are two types of conduct that can give rise to a complaint:
- professional misconduct, and
- unsatisfactory professional conduct.
What is professional misconduct?
The term ‘professional misconduct’ covers a broad range of acts and circumstances and is the most serious charge a solicitor can face as a member of the profession. Examples may include:
- failing to abide by professional obligations
- contravening the Legal Profession Act 2006 and the associated rules
- charging excessive costs
- being found guilty of a serious offence or tax offence
What is unsatisfactory professional conduct?
This is the second most serious charge a solicitor can face. It generally involves a consistent or substantial failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence in the practise of law.
Can I be compensated?
If you have suffered loss because of the conduct of a solicitor you can make a request for a compensation order in your complaint. It is in your best interests to do this at the initial complaint stage.
A compensation order can request:
- the solicitor repay their fees to you
- the discharge of a lien, or
- the solicitor pay you monetary compensation for the loss (limits and conditions apply).