Are you able to help me with my complaint?

What we might be able to help you with

If you are unhappy with the service provided by your lawyer, or the costs that they have charged you, then we might be able to help you resolve that problem with your lawyer.
You should try to do this yourself first, but if that does not work then contact us straight away.  There are time limits and monetary limits that apply to making a costs dispute, so it is important not to delay raising your concerns.
If you have concerns that a lawyer might be behaving in a way that is improper or unethical, please check to see whether we might be able to help you by looking here.

Time and money limits in costs disputes

If you want to dispute the costs that your lawyer has charged you, then you should make your complaint to us quickly.  If you leave it too long, we may not be able to assist you.

We have the ability to handle costs disputes where you first saw the lawyer after 1 July 2022.  If you first saw your lawyer before that time, then we will try and assist you. However, we cannot make any decisions about these older disputes. 

Generally cost disputes should be made to us within 60 days of the date of any lump sum bill you receive.

If you asked your lawyer for an itemised bill, then you only have 30 days from the date of the itemised bill to lodge a costs dispute with us.

In certain cases, we may be able to extend these time frames by up to 4 months, but you will need to be able to provide a good reason to allow us to consider that request.  Not all requests will be successful.

You should also be aware that if you do not pay an outstanding bill for 30 days, a lawyer can take action to try and recover that outstanding money.  They can also hold on to any documents that they have produced for you until you pay.

These are good reasons to pay the bill and make a complaint promptly.

We can try and help you with a costs dispute where the total legal costs are no more than $185,460, or where the total legal costs are higher than this, you are only disputing up to $18,550 as part of these costs. It is important to note that these limits are indexed and as such are subject to variation at the commencement of each financial year.

Time limits for other complaints

If you want to raise concerns with us about issues other than the costs which you have been charged, then you will need to do that within 3 years after they occurred.
In very limited cases, we may look at concerns that are older than that, but you will need to provide compelling reasons for us to do so.
You should also check to see whether we may be able to help you with your concerns here.

What we cannot help you with

We cannot provide you with legal advice, give you a second opinion on whether your lawyer gave you the best advice, or change the outcome of a legal or court case.  We only look at complaints about lawyers, and not about court outcomes, processes or judges.

Generally, anything that is currently the subject of an ongoing court case will not be something that we can assist you with.

After a court case is over, you can make a complaint if the court has said that a lawyer has done something that they should not have.  However, if the issue was dealt with by the court, we are unlikely to look at it further. 

We cannot look at the history of a case to check if something was done incorrectly.  If you have a concern, you will need to tell us clearly what it is exactly.

We do not make rulings about whether a lawyer has been negligent.   This is something that a court will decide.  We also cannot replace a court in deciding other questions – like whether a lawyer has committed a crime.

If you want to complain about a lawyer who is not acting for you, then there will be limited times when we can help.  A lawyer who is acting for someone else has a duty to act in accordance with their instructions and in their best interest, not yours.  What goes on between a client and their lawyer is private and you cannot use a complaint to learn anything about what is going on there.

Unless a complaint about a lawyer is made by the client, there are limited things we can do to assist.