Complaints initiated by the Legal Services Commissioner

The Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) may initiate a complaint about a solicitor or a barrister on his own motion.

The LSC can do so as a result of receiving information relating to the conduct by a lawyer from any source that may be capable of amounting to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

The source of such information may be:

  • A referral from another organisation or person, such as a costs assessor or judicial officer. NB Costs Assessors have a statutory duty under the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) to refer to the LSC any matter where they consider that the legal costs charged by a law practice are grossly excessive, or where the costs assessment raises any other matter that may amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct on the part of a lawyer;
  • A report from a Supervisor, Manager or Receiver appointed to a law practice by the Law Society of NSW;
  • A report of an investigator appointed by the Law Society of NSW conducting a trust account investigation, trust account examination, complaint investigation or compliance audit;
  • Information contained in court transcripts;
  • Press reports; and/or
  • A member of the public or another lawyer.

The OLSC may make a complaint based on information provided by a person who wishes to remain anonymous, such as a current employee of a law practice. However, in dealing with all complaints the LSC must provide a lawyer procedural fairness including details about the complaint where an investigation is commenced or the rights of the lawyer are affected. This may risk revealing the identity of the source of information upon which a complaint is based, particularly where that information is critical in understanding the nature of the complaint. It is also the case that where a matter is referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) - Occupational Division for prosecution, any witnesses giving evidence would be identified in that process.

If you wish to make a complaint anonymously, you should contact our Inquiry Line on 1800 242 958 (toll free within Australia) or 02 9377 1800 to discuss your situation.