Independent Regulator

For Tasmania's legal profession —› read more

About Complaints

Who can make a complaint?

Any person may make a complaint about the conduct of a lawyer. You can make a complaint about the conduct of:

  • a lawyer (barrister or solicitor) who is currently acting for you or who previously acted for you or is acting for another party;
  • a lawyer who is working alone or who is an employee of a legal firm; or
  • a government lawyer.

Lodging a complaint

Before you send a formal complaint to the Board, you should try to resolve your concerns with your lawyer in a less formal way, such as:

  • talking to the lawyer, calmly raising your issues and explaining what outcome you want;
  • raising your concerns with a more senior person at the same firm; or
  • contacting the Legal Profession Board staff to determine if they can assist you to resolve the problem without the need of a formal complaint.

Time limits

The Board may be unable to deal with your complaint if it is made more than 3 years after the conduct is alleged to have occurred. If you think your complaint might be too old to deal with, you can read the Board’s fact sheet on ‘out of time complaints’ or contact us to discuss the matter.

Important things to consider when making a complaint

  • You can engage the services of another lawyer at any time whether a complaint has been made or not.
  • All complaints lodged with the Board are confidential.

However we will send a copy of your complaint to the lawyer involved unless it will interfere with the investigation or put you at risk. We must also advise the Law Society of Tasmania of details of the complaint.

  • You may withdraw your complaint at any time. Even if you withdraw your complaint, we may still take further action if we think it is appropriate to do so.

Diversity jurisdiction

The High Court decision of Burns v Corbett [2018] HCA 15 (Burns) concerned the capacity of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales to hear and determine disputes between residents of different States of Australia.

Jurisdiction of this sort is referred to as ‘diversity jurisdiction’. The effect of the Burns decision is that the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania (the Board) cannot be vested with, or exercise, any ‘diversity jurisdiction’, and, may be without jurisdiction in some circumstances to deal with complaints when acting in its judicial or quasi-judicial capacity, where the parties to a complaint are residents of different states of Australia.

Importantly however, the same is not true of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, which is capable of, and does, exercise federal jurisdiction. Another significant point is that the word ‘residents’ refers only to natural persons and not to artificial persons or corporations.  As the Board is an incorporated body it is not a ‘resident’ of any State and accordingly, no question of diversity jurisdiction can arise where the Board is the only party on one side of the record.

The investigation of a complaint does not involve the exercise by the Board of ‘judicial’ power, and is unaffected by the decision in Burns.

In contrast, the power to determine a complaint either in accordance with s 454(2) or s 456 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (the Act) involves the exercise of judicial power. Accordingly, in a case where the complainant and the practitioner complained of are residents of different States on the date upon which the Board proposes to make a decision to proceed under either of those provisions, the Board is unable to exercise any jurisdiction in the matter.

The Board is of the view that the exercise of judicial power only occurs after the Board has made a decision to proceed in accordance with either s 454(2) or 456, which typically is considered at the conclusion of the investigation.