Make a complaint
All complaints regarding barristers must be made to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner, which may refer a complaint to the Bar Council.
If you want to complain about a barrister
The procedure for making and determining complaints against barristers is governed by the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW) (the LPUL). The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (the OLSC) receives complaints about all solicitors and barristers practising in New South Wales. The OLSC may refer a complaint about a barrister to the Bar Council.
Under the LPUL, the Bar Council must conduct a preliminary assessment of the complaint. Following a preliminary assessment, the Bar Council may close all or part of the complaint, or may decide to investigate the complaint.
Relevant information can be requested from a barrister, a complainant or a third party. The barrister may be given a copy of the complaint for his or her comment.
Who investigates a complaint?
The Bar Council has delegated its investigatory functions with regard to complaints to its Professional Conduct Committees. The Bar Council will ultimately determine the complaint. Staff of the Professional Conduct Department assist the committees with the preliminary assessment and investigation of a complaint. Professional Conduct staff do not have any decision-making role in the complaints process.
A disciplinary matter is conduct of a barrister that would, if the conduct was established, amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct. The outcome of a complaint will vary depending on the facts of each matter. If the Bar Council intends to make a determination against a barrister in a disciplinary matter, the complainant will generally be consulted to provide comments on the potential determination.
Consideration of a complaint
In considering a complaint, the Bar Council may request further information and/or documents from a complainant or obtain further evidence held by third parties.
Generally, the word of a complainant against the word of a barrister (without any other evidence) is not sufficient for a finding to be made against a barrister.
Parties should cooperate and assist with any requests for further information and/or documents to the best of his or her ability. The LPUL permits the Bar Council to close a complaint without further consideration of its merits if a complainant has not responded, or has responded inadequately, to a request for further information.
A complaint may be withdrawn, at any time, in writing. Withdrawal of a complaint does not prevent the Bar Council from taking further action if it deems it appropriate to do so.
Compensation is only available through the complaints process in very limited circumstances.
How long will the complaints process take?
We aim to deal with all complaints as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. The length of time taken to resolve a complaint will depend on the seriousness and complexity of the complaint. Please be aware there may be a delay in the processing of a complaint for many reasons.
The information on this page is only intended as a guide. It does not attempt to summarise all of the relevant provisions of the LPUL and is not a substitute for legal advice.