Disciplinary action

Select a link below for more information about disciplinary action that may be taken by the OLSC.

     

    What happens after a complaint has been investigated?

    After investigating a complaint the Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) may:

    1. Close the complaint if there is no reasonable likelihood that the solicitor or barrister will be found guilty by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) - Occupational Division (Disciplinary Tribunal) of either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, or it is in the public interest to do so;
    2. Institute proceedings in the Disciplinary Tribunal if the LSC determines that there is a reasonable likelihood that the solicitor or barrister will be found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct; or
    3. In circumstances where the LSC is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood that the solicitor or barrister would be found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct (but not professional misconduct), can make a range of orders including:
      (i) caution the solicitor or barrister;
      (ii) reprimand the solicitor or barrister; and/or
      (iii) impose conditions on the solicitor's or barrister's Practising Certificate.

    What happens if the solicitor or barrister is likely to be found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct?

    Where the LSC is satisfied that there is a "reasonable likelihood" that the solicitor or barrister will be found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, disciplinary proceedings must be instituted subject to section 300(1) of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW)​ and paragraph 3 above. While proceedings are commenced in the Disciplinary Tribunal, the Supreme Court of NSW also retains an inherent jurisdiction with respect to the discipline of solicitors and barristers. In such instances, the LSC acts as a "prosecutor" of the complaint. Where matters are commenced by the Law Society of NSW or the NSW Bar Association they act in a similar role.

    At the conclusion of the hearing, the Disciplinary Tribunal may make a variety of orders. Such orders include:

    • Removal of the solicitor' s or barrister's name from the Roll of Legal Practitioners;
    • Suspension/cancellation of the solicitor's or barrister's practising certificate or the imposition of conditions;
    • A fine of up to $100,000 if the solicitor or barrister is guilty of professional misconduct;
    • A fine of up to $10,000 if the solicitor or barrister is guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct;
    • An order reprimanding the solicitor or barrister; and
    • An order that the solicitor or barrister undertakes a course of further legal education.

    In the case of a solicitor's practice, the Disciplinary Tribunal may order that:

    • The solicitor's practice be subject to periodic inspection;
    • The solicitor's practising certificate be endorsed with restrictive conditions; or
    • The solicitor's practice, or their financial affairs be conducted for a specified period in a specified way or subject to specified conditions.

    The Disciplinary Tribunal may also order payment of compensation up to an amount of $25,000 in circumstances where the complainant has suffered loss as a result of the conduct complained of and it is in the public interest that such an order be made. However, the complainant is not entitled to an award of compensation if the complainant has recovered​​ compensation as a result of bringing a negligence or other civil action against the solicitor or barrister, or if the Fidelity Fund provides compensation to the complainant.

    The Disciplinary Tribunal may also make orders about the costs of the hearing.

    A decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal may be the subject of an appeal.

    Decisions made by the Disciplinary Tribunal may be viewed on the Disciplinary Tribunal's website.