This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Who handles complaints about lawyers

The Legal Profession Uniform Law ('Uniform law') regulates the legal profession and sets out guidelines for processing complaints against legal practitioners in Victoria. This law is found in Schedule 1 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic). The Uniform law replaces the Legal Profession Act 2004, which was repealed on 1 July 2015.

The Legal Services Commissioner was established under the Uniform law as an independent agency responsible for handling all complaints about lawyers in Victoria. The Commission may refer some complaints about conduct to the Law Institute of Victoria or to the Victorian Bar for investigation.

See Part 3, Div 3—Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 and cl. 27—Schedule 4—Legal Profession Uniform Law (links below)

Why complain?

The reasons a person may want to make a complaint about a lawyer include:

  • disputes about lawyers’ costs and charges
  • delays caused by a lawyer
  • poor communication
  • incompetence
  • inadequate service
  • ethical issues (such as conflict of interest)
  • a lawyer’s action causing financial loss.

Different time limits apply depending on the type of complaint.

See Types of complaints.

Complaints the Commissioner cannot handle

The Commissioner is not able to deal with a complaint if:

  • the matter is before the courts
  • the complaint is about the courts or court staff.

A person who wants to complain about VLA‘s service, a staff member, or a private lawyer funded by VLA is encouraged to try to resolve the matter by speaking with the staff member or their manager. If the person would prefer they can complain directly to VLA's Complaints and Statutory Compliance team by phone or in writing. The officer will record the complaint and advise you on how it can be resolved.

See Making complaints to VLA.

More information

Legislation

Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic)

  • s. 48—establishment of the Legal Services Commissioner
  • s. 49—functions and powers of the commissioner

See Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Vic).

Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria)

  • Schedule 4—clause 27—current complaints and investigations

See Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria).

Legal Services Commissioner and Board

The Legal Services Commissioner and Board's website also has information about how to make a complaint.

See Legal Services Board and Commissioner—What to do when a problem arises.

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