Here you can find information on:  

 

How to use the Committee’s services

 

If you have a concern about a legal practitioner you should: or
  • telephone us on (08) 9461 2299.
In each case, you will be able to speak to a legal officer in our Rapid Resolution Team.
The legal officer will discuss your concerns with you. The legal officer cannot provide legal advice but can:
 
  • clarify the points in dispute
  • ​​explain your rights
  • help you consider your options
  • refer you to appropriate services
  • contact the practitioner to discuss your concerns
  • advise you whether your concerns raise matters which the Committee may be able to assist you with.
The legal officer may ask you to send in some documents to assist with the preliminary assessment of your concerns.

 

Our Processes

 

The Committee receives inquiries and complaints about legal practitioners. All inquiries and complaints are assessed on receipt to ascertain whether they raise an issue which, if proved, may amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct (a conduct issue).

Depending on the nature of the concern raised, it is often necessary for further information to be sought during this preliminary assessment process. This information is generally sought from the person raising the concern or the legal practitioner who is the subject of the concern. Depending on the complexity of the issues being raised and the material which needs to be obtained and read, the preliminary assessment may be completed the same day or take up to a couple of weeks.

If following this preliminary assessment no conduct issue is identified, our legal officer will discuss this assessment with the person raising the concern and give an explanation of the reasons for the view taken. Even though no conduct issue has been identified, our legal officer will explore whether it may be possible to attempt to conciliate the concern raised and, if so, what role the Committee may be able to play in achieving a conciliated outcome. If the person who raised the concern is not satisfied with the preliminary view taken by our legal officer that no conduct issue has been identified, that person may still request that his or her inquiry or complaint be formally determined. This formal determination is usually made by the Law Complaints Officer exercising the delegated power of the Committee.

If, following the preliminary assessment, a possible conduct issue is identified, the concern will proceed to be formally investigated as a complaint. Before the complaint is forwarded for investigation, the Committee will explore whether any steps may be taken by the practitioner to mitigate his or her conduct. If so, our legal officer will discuss with the practitioner whether he or she wishes to take such mitigatory action. Once the complaint is forwarded for investigation, a new legal officer will be assigned to undertake that investigation. The investigation process involves seeking written submissions from the practitioner addressing the issues, as well as seeking other material evidence concerning the events the subject of the investigation. This further evidence may be sought from the complainant, the practitioner, the courts or other third parties.

Once a complaint has been fully investigated it will be referred to the Committee for formal determination. The Committee may:
  • dismiss a complaint;
  • with the consent of the practitioner, exercise its summary conclusion powers;
  • refer the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal.
In addition to receiving complaints, the Committee can also initiate conduct investigations of its own volition.

 

What We Don’t Do

 
  • The Committee does not give legal advice or provide legal representation.
 
  • The Committee does not accept complaints about individuals who are not legal practitioners or were not, at the relevant time, acting as a legal practitioner but were acting in some other capacity, such as a Judge.
 
  • The Committee does not accept complaints about court decisions. Complainants who are unhappy about court decisions need to seek legal advice about their prospects of successfully appealing those decisions.
 
  • The Committee does not generally assess practitioners’ bills. There is a procedure available under the Legal Profession Act 2008 which enables clients to have their bills assessed by the Court. However, the Committee will help you to understand your bill, including identifying irregularities or inconsistencies and may approach practitioners to assist in possibly resolving a dispute about costs. For further information, see our Fact Sheet on Costs Disputes .
 
  • The Committee does not decide whether a practitioner has been negligent. The disciplinary scheme under the Legal Profession Act 2008 is not intended to provide an alternative forum to the taking of civil proceedings for negligence. Generally speaking, complainants who believe their lawyer has been negligent, and as a result have suffered a loss, should seek their own independent legal advice. The Committee’s legal officers can assist with identifying when an issue being raised is one in respect of which such advice should be sought. For further information, see our Fact Sheet on Negligence .
 
  • The Committee cannot direct a practitioner to cease taking legal action to recover fees. The lodging of a complaint does not prevent a practitioner from commencing or continuing legal action. In very limited cases, the Committee may request a practitioner not to take further steps in an action pending an investigation of a complaint but it cannot direct the practitioner to do so.
 
  • The Committee cannot generally accept complaints from a person who does not have a direct personal interest in the matter of complaint.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q What is the Legal Profession Complaints Committee ( LPCC )?
A The LPCC is an independent statutory authority established by Parliament to supervise the conduct of legal practitioners in Western Australia.

The LPCC consists of legal practitioners and not less than two community representatives, none of whom is or has been an Australian lawyer.

The LPCC ’s operations are funded by the Legal Practice Board (through fees from practitioners’ annual practising certificates) other than its accommodation costs which are funded by the Government.

 

Q Is your service free?
A Yes, there is no charge for our services.

Q Who will I be dealing with?
A All new callers are referred to a legal officer in our Rapid Resolution Team.

Q Do you provide interpreters?
A Yes, we can provide interpreters if you are unable to communicate effectively with our legal officers in English. The legal officer you are dealing with will assess the need for an interpreter.

Q What information will you need?
A We will need to know the name of the lawyer you are inquiring about and the nature of your concern. If further information is needed, this will be requested.

Q Should I put my concerns in writing?
A The best approach is to speak to a legal officer first about your concerns. Our legal officers will discuss your concerns with you and ask to see any relevant documents.

Q How quickly do you act?
A In nearly all cases, you will receive a telephone call from a legal officer in our Rapid Resolution Team within 1 working day of making contact with our office.

The majority of matters which don’t require a full investigation and are capable of being resolved are completed within 2 months.

If your matter raises serious conduct issues, investigations into these matters take longer. Our aim is to finalise all investigations within 1 year.

Q Will you be able to deal with all my concerns?
A No, sometimes the concerns raised about lawyers are not matters we can assist you with. For example, if your concern raises issues of negligence, which do not amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct but have caused you a loss, you will need to seek advice from a lawyer about any civil rights you may have.

Q Is there a time limit for raising concerns?
A All conduct concerns must be raised with us within 6 years of when the conduct occurred. It is only in very rare circumstances that we will consider complaints made outside this time period. It is better to raise concerns as soon as possible after the conduct has taken place in order to reduce the risk of problems occurring with the availability and reliability of evidence.

Further information about the Committee is available on our Brochures page and in our Annual Report .