Complaints about lawyers
What can I complain about?
As a professional, lawyers are expected to provide a reasonable standard of service to their clients. Sometimes lawyers make mistakes or don't do what is expected of them. As a client, you are entitled to complain about:
Complaints about illegal or criminal activities by a lawyer should be made to the police for investigation.
You can also make a complaint to the Legal Services and Complaints Committee if it affects the lawyer's ability or fitness to practise as a lawyer. The offence must relate directly to the lawyer's ability to provide an honest and acceptable legal service: for example fraud, breaking the law while working as a lawyer, or breaching the Legal Profession Uniform Law (WA).
This is when a lawyer does not meet the standards set down by the Law Society of WA or the Legal Practice Board of WA. This would also involve acting in what most other professionals would consider a disgraceful or dishonourable way.
Neglect and undue delay
This often occurs where the lawyer does not deal with your case or fails to work with enough skill and care. Undue delay occurs when the lawyer does not deal with your case within a reasonable time.
Where can you make a complaint?
If you are unable to resolve your concerns by raising them directly with the lawyer, there are organisations you can contact about your complaint.
- Legal Services and Complaints Committee on (08) 6211 3699.
This committee is part of the Legal Practice Board of WA and deals with complaints against lawyers. You can make a written or oral statement to the Committee.
- Law Society of WA on (08) 9324 8600
This is the main professional association for lawyers. The Law Society does not have any legal powers to deal with complaints but may be able to assist with your concerns. If the Law Society receives a complaint about serious misconduct, they will refer the complaint to the Legal Services and Complaints Committee.
- Legal Aid WA
We will investigate complaints against lawyers who work for Legal Aid WA, or who provide legal services for us under a grant of aid. If Legal Aid WA receives a complaint against one of our lawyers, or a lawyer on our practitioner panels and lists, we may also refer the matter to the Legal Services and Complaints Committee for investigation.
Can I take court action against my lawyer?
Lawyers, like everyone else, can make mistakes. If you think your lawyer has made a serious mistake and caused you psychological harm, financial loss or physical injury, you may have a claim against them for negligence. An example of a negligence claim could be if you were prevented from receiving compensation for an injury because your lawyer didn't lodge your compensation claim in time.
If this happens to you, get legal advice straight away. Some lawyers specialise in claiming compensation for people who have suffered because of professional negligence.
The Legal Practice Board of WA has more information about making a complaint on its website.
The Legal Services Council website has a link to the laws that cover the conduct of lawyers.
Reviewed: 30 August 2022