Legal Profession Act 2004 No 112
Current version for 4 July 2014 to date (accessed 23 November 2014 at 03:33)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Complaints and discipline

Part 4.1 Preliminary and application

Division 1 Preliminary

494   Purposes and objects

(1)  The purposes of this Chapter are as follows:
(a)  to provide a nationally consistent scheme for the discipline of the legal profession in this jurisdiction, in the interests of the administration of justice and for the protection of clients of law practices and the public generally,
(b)  to promote and enforce the professional standards, competence and honesty of the legal profession,
(c)  to provide a means of redress for complaints about lawyers,
(d)  to enable lay persons to participate in complaints and disciplinary processes involving lawyers to ensure that community interests and perspectives are recognised,
Note. Sections 695 and 698 provide for lay representation on committees of the Bar Association, Bar Council, Law Society and Law Society Council.
(e)  to give complainants, lawyers and other participants in the system immunity from civil liability for communications made by them in good faith in connection with the complaints and disciplinary system.
(2)  The objects of this Chapter relating to lay persons and the clients of law practices are as follows:
(a)  to give every person the right to complain about the conduct of lawyers,
(b)  to ensure that information is readily available to lay persons about the means of redress that are available under the scheme,
(c)  to give clients of law practices access to sufficient advice and assistance in order to make complaints in accordance with their rights and responsibilities under this Chapter,
(d)  to promote transparency and openness for lay persons at all levels of the operation of the scheme, subject to the need to preserve confidentiality in appropriate circumstances,
(e)  to provide an opportunity for mediation of consumer disputes relating to legal services,
(f)  to provide complainants with a reasonable opportunity to comment on statements of the lawyer against whom the complaint is made before the complaint is disposed of,
(g)  to ensure that complainants receive adequate notice of the commencement and status of the disciplinary process at relevant stages of the process (including notice of the dismissal of complaints and the reasons for the dismissal),
(h)  to give complainants the right to seek an independent review of decisions of Councils to dismiss complaints or reprimand Australian legal practitioners.
(3)  The objects of this Chapter relating to the providers of legal services are as follows:
(a)  to ensure that information is readily available to lawyers about the means of redress that are available under the scheme,
(b)  to ensure that the rules of natural justice (being rules for procedural fairness) are applied to any disciplinary proceedings taken against lawyers,
(c)  to ensure that lawyers are aware of the standards of honesty, competence and diligence expected of them.
(4)  The Commissioner is to keep under review the provisions and operation of this Chapter for the purpose of:
(a)  ascertaining whether the scheme established by this Chapter meets the purposes and objects of this Chapter, and
(b)  identifying modifications that may ensure that those purposes and objects are better met,
but this subsection does not affect the making or carrying out of other arrangements for reviewing the provisions or operation of the provisions of this Act or of this Act generally.

495   Definitions

In this Chapter:

compensation order means an order under Part 4.9 (Compensation).

complaint means a complaint under this Chapter.

conduct means conduct whether consisting of an act or omission.

disciplinary application means an application made to the Tribunal under section 551 (Commencement of proceedings) with respect to a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner.

investigation means an investigation under this Chapter by the Commissioner or a Council into a complaint, and includes an independent investigation under section 532 (Independent investigation of certain complaints).

loss means loss of a pecuniary nature, but does not include non-economic loss within the meaning of the Civil Liability Act 2002.

official complaint means a complaint made by the Commissioner or a Council.

relevant Council means:

(a)  in relation to a complaint concerning a person who was a barrister when the conduct the subject of the complaint allegedly occurred—the Bar Council, or
(b)  in relation to a complaint concerning a person who was a solicitor when the conduct the subject of the complaint allegedly occurred—the Law Society Council, or
(c)  in relation to a complaint concerning a person who was neither a barrister nor a solicitor when the conduct the subject of the complaint allegedly occurred—the Bar Council or the Law Society Council, whichever the Commissioner nominates for the purposes of the complaint.

496   Unsatisfactory professional conduct

For the purposes of this Act:

unsatisfactory professional conduct includes conduct of an Australian legal practitioner occurring in connection with the practice of law that falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent Australian legal practitioner.

497   Professional misconduct

(1)  For the purposes of this Act:

professional misconduct includes:

(a)  unsatisfactory professional conduct of an Australian legal practitioner, where the conduct involves a substantial or consistent failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence, and
(b)  conduct of an Australian legal practitioner whether occurring in connection with the practice of law or occurring otherwise than in connection with the practice of law that would, if established, justify a finding that the practitioner is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice.

(2)  For finding that an Australian legal practitioner is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice as mentioned in subsection (1), regard may be had to the matters that would be considered under section 25 or 42 if the practitioner were an applicant for admission to the legal profession under this Act or for the grant or renewal of a local practising certificate and any other relevant matters.

498   Conduct capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct

(1)  Without limiting section 496 or 497, the following conduct is capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct:
(a)  conduct consisting of a contravention of this Act, the regulations or the legal profession rules,
(b)  charging of excessive legal costs in connection with the practice of law,
(c)  conduct in respect of which there is a conviction for:
(i)  a serious offence, or
(ii)  a tax offence, or
(iii)  an offence involving dishonesty,
(d)  conduct of an Australian legal practitioner as or in becoming an insolvent under administration,
(e)  conduct of an Australian legal practitioner in becoming disqualified from managing or being involved in the management of any corporation under the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth,
(f)  conduct consisting of a failure to comply with the requirements of a notice under this Act or the regulations (other than an information notice),
(g)  conduct of an Australian legal practitioner in failing to comply with an order of the Disciplinary Tribunal made under this Act or an order of a corresponding disciplinary body made under a corresponding law (including but not limited to a failure to pay wholly or partly a fine imposed under this Act or a corresponding law),
(h)  conduct of an Australian legal practitioner in failing to comply with a compensation order made under this Act or a corresponding law.
(2)  Conduct of a person consisting of a contravention referred to in subsection (1) (a) is capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct whether or not the person is convicted of an offence in relation to the contravention.

Division 2 Application

499   Practitioners to whom this Chapter applies

(1)  This Chapter applies to an Australian legal practitioner in respect of conduct to which this Chapter applies, and so applies:
(a)  whether or not the practitioner is a local lawyer, and
(b)  whether or not the practitioner holds a local practising certificate, and
(c)  whether or not the practitioner holds an interstate practising certificate, and
(d)  whether or not the practitioner resides or has an office in this jurisdiction, and
(e)  whether or not the person making a complaint about the conduct resides, works or has an office in this jurisdiction.
(2)  However, this Chapter does not apply to a person while the person holds office as:
(a)  a judicial officer within the meaning of the Judicial Officers Act 1986, or
(b)  a Justice of the High Court, or
(c)  a judge of a court created by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, or
(d)  a judge of a court, or a judicial member of a tribunal, of another State or a Territory,
regardless of whether the unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct the subject of a complaint allegedly occurred before or after the person’s appointment to the office concerned.
(3)  A provision of this or any other Act that protects a person from any action, liability, claim or demand in connection with any act or omission of the person does not affect the application of this Chapter to the person in respect of the act or omission.
(4)  For the purposes of this Chapter, conduct of an Australian legal practitioner in the exercise of official functions as an arbitrator or costs assessor constitutes conduct occurring in connection with the practice of law. However, conduct concerned with the justiciable aspects of decision making by an arbitrator or costs assessor does not constitute conduct occurring in connection with the practice of law for the purposes of this Chapter.
(5)  For the purposes of this Chapter, conduct of an Australian legal practitioner does not constitute conduct occurring in connection with the practice of law to the extent that it is conduct engaged in in the exercise of executive or administrative functions under an Act or statutory rule as:
(a)  any officer or employee in the service of the Crown (including the Public Service), or
(b)  a person appointed to an office by the Governor, or
(c)  any member, officer or employee of a Council, the Bar Association or the Law Society.

500   Application of Chapter to lawyers, former lawyers and former practitioners

(1)  This Chapter applies to Australian lawyers and former Australian lawyers in relation to conduct occurring while they were Australian lawyers, but not Australian legal practitioners, in the same way as it applies to Australian legal practitioners and former Australian legal practitioners, and so applies with any necessary modifications.
(2)  This Chapter applies to former Australian legal practitioners in relation to conduct occurring while they were Australian legal practitioners in the same way as it applies to persons who are Australian legal practitioners, and so applies with any necessary modifications.
Note. This Chapter also applies to Australian-registered foreign lawyers. See section 190 (Application of Australian professional ethical and practice standards).

501   Conduct to which this Chapter applies—generally

(1)  Subject to subsection (3), this Chapter applies to conduct of an Australian legal practitioner occurring in this jurisdiction.
(2)  This Chapter also applies to an Australian legal practitioner’s conduct occurring outside this jurisdiction, but only:
(a)  if it is part of a course of conduct that has occurred partly in this jurisdiction and partly in another jurisdiction, and either:
(i)  the Commissioner and the corresponding authority of each other jurisdiction in which the conduct has occurred consent to its being dealt with under this Act, or
(ii)  the complainant and the practitioner consent to its being dealt with under this Act, or
(b)  if it occurs in Australia but wholly outside this jurisdiction and the practitioner is a local lawyer or a local legal practitioner, and either:
(i)  the Commissioner and the corresponding authority of each jurisdiction in which the conduct has occurred consent to its being dealt with under this Act, or
(ii)  the complainant and the practitioner consent to its being dealt with under this Act, or
(c)  if:
(i)  it occurs wholly or partly outside Australia, and
(ii)  the practitioner is a local lawyer or a local legal practitioner.
Note. If consent is not given, the matter will be dealt with in each jurisdiction under subsection (1) or its equivalent.
(3)  This Chapter does not apply to conduct occurring in this jurisdiction if:
(a)  the Commissioner consents to its being dealt with under a corresponding law, or
(b)  the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner consent to its being dealt with under a corresponding law.
(4)  Subsection (3) does not apply if the conduct is not capable of being dealt with under the corresponding law.
(5)  The Commissioner may give consent for the purposes of subsection (3) (a), and may do so conditionally or unconditionally.
(6)  This Chapter extends to conduct as a public notary.

502   Conduct to which this Chapter applies—insolvency, serious offences and tax offences

(1)  This Chapter applies to the following conduct of a local legal practitioner whether occurring in Australia or elsewhere:
(a)  conduct of the practitioner in respect of which there is a conviction for:
(i)  a serious offence, or
(ii)  a tax offence, or
(iii)  an offence involving dishonesty,
(b)  conduct of the practitioner as or in becoming an insolvent under administration,
(c)  conduct of the practitioner in becoming disqualified from managing or being involved in the management of any corporation under the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth.
(2)  This section has effect despite anything in section 501 (Conduct to which this Chapter applies—generally).

Part 4.2 Complaints about Australian legal practitioners

503   Complaints

(1)  A complaint may be made under this Part about an Australian legal practitioner’s conduct.
(2)  A complaint may be made under this Part about the conduct of an Australian legal practitioner occurring outside this jurisdiction, but the complaint must not be dealt with under this Part unless this Part is or becomes applicable to it.
(3)  A complaint that is duly made is to be dealt with in accordance with this Part.

504   Making of complaints

(1)  A complaint about an Australian legal practitioner may be made by:
(a)  a client of the practitioner, or
(b)  a Council, or
(c)  the Commissioner, or
(d)  any other person.
(2)  A complaint must be in writing.
(3)  A complaint must:
(a)  identify the complainant, and
(b)  identify the Australian legal practitioner about whom the complaint is made or, if it is not possible to do so, identify the law practice concerned, and
(c)  describe the alleged conduct the subject of the complaint.
(4)  This section does not affect any other right of a person to complain about the conduct of an Australian legal practitioner.
(5)  The Commissioner, or the Council to which a complaint is referred, is to ensure that the complainant is notified in writing of receipt of a complaint (other than an official complaint).

505   To whom complaint made

(1)  A complaint is to be made to the Commissioner, unless it is made by the Commissioner or by a Council.
(2)  A complaint that is made to a Council instead of the Commissioner is to be forwarded as soon as practicable to the Commissioner by the Council, and is taken to have been made to the Commissioner when received by the Council.
(3)  A copy of a complaint made by a Council is to be forwarded as soon as possible to the Commissioner by the Council.

506   Complaints made over 3 years after conduct concerned

(1)  A complaint may be made about conduct of an Australian legal practitioner irrespective of when the conduct is alleged to have occurred.
(2)  However, a complaint cannot be dealt with (otherwise than to dismiss it or refer it to mediation) if the complaint is made more than 3 years after the conduct is alleged to have occurred, unless a determination is made under this section that:
(a)  it is just and fair to deal with the complaint having regard to the delay and the reasons for the delay, or
(b)  the complaint involves an allegation of professional misconduct and it is in the public interest to deal with the complaint.
(3)  A determination under this section:
(a)  in the case of a complaint made to or by the Commissioner—is to be made by the Commissioner, or
(b)  in the case of a complaint made by a Council—is to be made by the Council.
(4)  A determination made under this section is final and cannot be challenged in any proceedings by the complainant or the Australian legal practitioner concerned.

507   Further information and verification

The Commissioner, or the Council to which a complaint is referred for investigation, may require the complainant to do either or both of the following:
(a)  to give further information about the complaint,
(b)  to verify the complaint, or any further information, by statutory declaration.

508   Practitioner to be notified of complaint

(1)  The Commissioner, or the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation, is to ensure that as soon as practicable after the complaint is made the Australian legal practitioner about whom the complaint is made is given:
(a)  a copy of the complaint, and
(b)  a notice in writing informing the practitioner of the practitioner’s right to make submissions to the Commissioner or Council and specifying the period within which submissions must be made, unless the Commissioner or Council advises the practitioner that the Commissioner or Council has dismissed or intends to dismiss the complaint.
(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply if the complaint is dismissed under section 511 (Summary dismissal of complaints).
(3)  Subsection (1) does not apply if the Commissioner, after such consultation with the relevant Council as the Commissioner thinks appropriate in the circumstances, is of the opinion that the giving of the notice will or is likely to:
(a)  prejudice the investigation of the complaint, or
(b)  prejudice an investigation by the police or other investigatory or law enforcement body of any matter with which the complaint is concerned, or
(c)  place the complainant or another person at risk of intimidation or harassment, or
(d)  prejudice pending court proceedings.
(4)  In a case in which subsection (3) applies, the Commissioner, or the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation:
(a)  may postpone giving the practitioner a copy of the complaint and notice about making submissions, until of the opinion that it is appropriate to do so, or
(b)  may at their discretion:
(i)  notify the practitioner of the general nature of the complaint, and
(ii)  inform the practitioner of the practitioner’s right to make submissions to the Commissioner or Council, specifying the period within which submissions must be made, if of the opinion that the practitioner has sufficient information to make submissions.
(5)  Nothing in this section requires the Commissioner or a Council to give written notice under this section to the practitioner until the Commissioner or Council has had time to consider the complaint, seek further information about the complaint from the complainant or otherwise undertake preliminary inquiries into the complaint, and properly prepare the notice.

509   Submissions by practitioner

(1)  The Australian legal practitioner about whom a complaint is made may, within a period specified by the Commissioner, or by the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation, make submissions to the Commissioner or Council about the complaint or its subject-matter or both.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may at their discretion extend the period in which submissions may be made.
(3)  The Commissioner or Council must consider the submissions made within the permitted period before deciding what action is to be taken in relation to the complaint.

510   Preliminary assessment

(1)  When the Commissioner, or the Council to which a complaint is referred for investigation, is deciding whether or not to dismiss a complaint under section 511 (Summary dismissal of complaints), they may conduct a preliminary assessment of the complaint for the purpose of assessing the substance of the complaint.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may, in writing, appoint a suitably qualified person as an investigator to conduct the preliminary assessment of the complaint as agent of the Commissioner or Council. Such an appointment may be made generally (to apply for all complaints or for all complaints of a specified class) or for a specified complaint.
(3)  The investigator is not bound by rules of evidence and may inform himself or herself on any matter in such manner as he or she thinks fit.
(4)  Chapter 6 (Provisions relating to investigations), except Part 6.3 (Entry and search of premises), applies to a preliminary assessment under this section as if the assessment were a complaint investigation and the investigator conducting the assessment were an investigator conducting a complaint investigation.
(5)  The investigator may terminate the preliminary assessment at any time and may make any recommendations the investigator considers appropriate.
(6)  Any evidence or information obtained by the Commissioner or Council, or by the investigator, in the course of conducting the preliminary assessment may be used by the Commissioner or Council, or by an investigator appointed by them, in or in relation to any later investigation or consideration of the complaint.

511   Summary dismissal of complaints

(1)  The Commissioner, or the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation, may dismiss a complaint if:
(a)  further information is not given, or the complaint or further information is not verified, as required by the Commissioner or Council under section 507 (Further information and verification), or
(b)  the complaint is vexatious, misconceived, frivolous or lacking in substance, or
(c)  the complaint was made more than 3 years after the conduct complained of is alleged to have occurred, unless a determination is made under section 506 (Complaints made over 3 years after conduct concerned) in relation to the complaint, or
(d)  the conduct complained about has been the subject of a previous complaint that has been dismissed, or
(e)  the conduct complained about is the subject of another complaint, or
(f)  it is not in the public interest to deal with the complaint having regard to the fact that the name of the Australian legal practitioner to whom the complaint relates has already been removed from any Australian roll in which he or she was enrolled, or
(g)  the Commissioner or Council is satisfied that it is otherwise in the public interest to dismiss the complaint, or
(h)  the complaint is not one that the Commissioner or Council has power to deal with.
(2)  A complaint may be dismissed under this section without any investigation or without completing an investigation.

512   Withdrawal of complaints

(1)  A complaint may, subject to this section, be withdrawn by the person who made it unless proceedings with respect to the complaint have been commenced in the Tribunal.
(2)  If the complaint was made to the Commissioner, the withdrawal of the complaint is not effective unless notice in writing of the withdrawal is given by the complainant to the Commissioner or to the Council to which the complaint has been referred for investigation.
(3)  The Commissioner or the Council to which the complaint has been referred may reject the withdrawal of the complaint if satisfied that the conduct may involve unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(4)  If a complaint is duly withdrawn, no further action is to be taken under this Chapter with respect to the complaint.
(5)  The withdrawal of a complaint does not prevent:
(a)  a further complaint being made under this Part, by the same or any other person, with respect to the matter the subject of the withdrawn complaint, or
(b)  action being taken on any other complaint made with respect to that matter.
(6)  This section extends to the withdrawal of a complaint so far as it relates to some only or part only of the matters that form the subject of the complaint.

513   Referral of complaints to Council

(1)  The Commissioner may refer a complaint made to or by the Commissioner to the relevant Council if the complaint is not to be investigated by the Commissioner under Part 4.4 (Investigation of complaints).
(2)  When referring a complaint to a Council, the Commissioner may recommend that the Council investigate the complaint or refer it to mediation, or both.
(3)  A decision to refer a complaint to a Council is to be made, as far as practicable, within 21 days after the complaint is made or, if further information or verification is required, within 21 days after the further information or verification is given or provided. A Council is not excused from dealing with a complaint because it is referred to the Council after the time prescribed by this subsection.
(4)  The Commissioner may refer a complaint to a Council even though the Commissioner commenced but did not complete an investigation into the complaint.
(5)  This section does not apply to a complaint that is dismissed by the Commissioner under this Part.

Part 4.3 Mediation

514   Definition

In this Part:

consumer dispute is a dispute between a person and an Australian legal practitioner about conduct of the practitioner to the extent that the dispute does not involve an issue of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

515   Mediation of complaint involving consumer dispute solely

(1)  This section applies to a complaint that involves a consumer dispute but does not involve an issue of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(2)  If the Commissioner, or the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation, considers that the whole or a part of the matter that is the subject of the complaint is capable of resolution by mediation, the Commissioner or Council may suggest to the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner to whom the complaint relates that they enter into a process of mediation.
(3)  If the complainant and the practitioner agree to enter into a process of mediation in connection with the complaint:
(a)  the Commissioner or Council may refer the complaint to mediation, and
(b)  no further action is required on the complaint to the extent that it is referred to mediation, except as provided by section 518 (Facilitation of mediation).
Note. The complaint may be withdrawn under section 512 (Withdrawal of complaints) if the matter is resolved by mediation.

516   Mediation of hybrid complaint

(1)  This section applies to a complaint that involves both a consumer dispute and an issue of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(2)  If the Commissioner, or the Council by which a complaint is made or to which a complaint is referred for investigation, considers that the whole or a part of the consumer dispute is capable of resolution by mediation, the Commissioner or Council may suggest to the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner to whom the complaint relates that they enter into a process of mediation.
(3)  If the complainant and the practitioner agree to enter into a process of mediation in connection with the consumer dispute:
(a)  the Commissioner or Council may refer the complaint to mediation, and
(b)  so far as it involves an issue of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, the complaint is to continue to be dealt with under this Chapter, and
(c)  no further action is required on the consumer dispute to the extent that it is referred to mediation, except as provided by section 518 (Facilitation of mediation) and except so far as the consumer dispute is relevant to determination of the complaint.
Note. The complaint may be withdrawn under section 512 (Withdrawal of complaints) if the matter is resolved by mediation.

517   Compulsory mediation of consumer dispute

(1)  Despite any other provision of this Part, the Commissioner may, by notice in writing, require the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner concerned to enter into a process of mediation under this Part in connection with a consumer dispute that comprises or is involved in a complaint.
(2)  After the notice is given:
(a)  the Commissioner may refer the complaint to mediation, and
(b)  if and so far as it involves an issue of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, the complaint is to continue to be dealt with under this Chapter after or during the mediation or attempt at mediation, and
(c)  no further action is required on the consumer dispute to the extent that it is referred to mediation, except as provided by section 518 (Facilitation of mediation) and except so far as the consumer dispute is relevant to determination of the complaint.
Note. The complaint may be withdrawn under section 512 (Withdrawal of complaints) if the matter is resolved by mediation.
(3)  Failure on the part of the practitioner to comply with the terms of a notice under this section is capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

518   Facilitation of mediation

If the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner concerned agree or are required to enter into a process of mediation under this Part in connection with a complaint, the Commissioner or Council, as the case may require, may facilitate the mediation to the extent they consider appropriate.

519   Nature of mediation

Mediation of a consumer dispute is not limited to formal mediation procedures and extends to encompass preliminary assistance in dispute resolution, such as the giving of informal advice designed to ensure that the parties are fully aware of their rights and obligations and that there is full and open communication between the parties concerning the dispute.

520   Mediators

(1)  The Commissioner is to maintain a list of mediators who are available to attempt a mediation of a consumer dispute.
(2)  The Commissioner is to consult the Councils and may consult any other relevant body about the selection and training of mediators.

521   Certificate of failure of mediation

(1)  If a mediation is not successful, the mediator is to provide the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner concerned with a certificate certifying that the mediation has been attempted but was not successful.
(2)  The certificate is evidence of the matters certified and is admissible in any proceedings where consideration of those matters or any of them are or may be relevant.

522   Confidentiality of mediation process

(1)  The following are not admissible in any proceedings in a court or the Tribunal or before a person or body authorised to hear and receive evidence:
(a)  evidence of anything said or admitted during a mediation or attempted mediation under this Part of the whole or a part of the matter that is the subject of a complaint, and
(b)  a document prepared for the purposes of the mediation or attempted mediation.
(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply to an agreement reached during mediation.

523   Recommendation for investigation

A mediator may recommend to the Commissioner or a Council that a complaint should be investigated, without disclosing any evidence, admission or document referred to in section 522 (Confidentiality of mediation process).

524   Protection from liability

No matter or thing done or omitted to be done by a mediator subjects the mediator to any action, liability, claim or demand if the matter or thing was done or omitted in good faith for the purposes of mediation under this Part.

Part 4.4 Investigation of complaints

525   Complaints to be investigated

(1)  Each complaint must be investigated under this Part.
(2)  This section does not apply to:
(a)  a complaint that is dismissed or withdrawn under this Chapter (to the extent that it is dismissed or withdrawn), or
(b)  a complaint to the extent that it is a consumer dispute after it has been referred to mediation under this Chapter, or
(c)  a complaint that is a separate complaint under section 534 (Conduct that may be investigated) and that under subsection (7) of that section need not be the subject of a separate or further investigation, or
(d)  a complaint that is a modified complaint under section 535 (Modified complaints) and that under subsection (4) of that section need not be the subject of a separate or further investigation, or
(e)  a complaint to which section 538 (Decision of Commissioner or Council without investigation) applies.
(3)  This section has effect subject to section 564 (Consent orders) in relation to a complaint to the extent that the relevant Australian legal practitioner, the Commissioner and (if applicable) the relevant Council have agreed on the terms of an instrument of consent filed or to be filed with the Tribunal under that section.

526   Investigation of complaints by Commissioner

(1)  The Commissioner may conduct an investigation into a complaint instead of referring it to a Council for investigation, or may take over the investigation of a complaint from a Council, if the Commissioner considers it appropriate.
(2)  The Commissioner may, with the consent of a Council, refer a complaint to the Council after the Commissioner has completed an investigation into the complaint (including after proceedings with respect to the complaint have been commenced in the Tribunal by the Commissioner).
(3)  A Council is to provide any assistance required by the Commissioner to conduct an investigation into a complaint (including copies of or access to all documents held by the Council that relate to the complaint or are required for the purpose of investigating the complaint).

527   Investigation of complaints by Council

(1)  A Council must, subject to this section, conduct an investigation into each complaint referred to it by the Commissioner or made by the Council.
(2)  This section does not apply to:
(a)  a complaint taken over by the Commissioner or referred to an independent investigator under this Part, or
(b)  a complaint that is not required to be investigated under this Part.

528   Consultation and cooperation on complaints

(1)  The Law Society Council and the Bar Council may consult and cooperate when dealing with a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner arising from the same, or related, facts as a complaint against another Australian legal practitioner for which the other Council is the relevant Council. For the purposes of this subsection, the Councils may exchange information concerning the complaints.
(2)  The Law Society Council or Bar Council may consult and cooperate with the corresponding authority of another jurisdiction when dealing with a complaint against an interstate legal practitioner under this Act or under a corresponding law. For the purposes of this subsection, the Councils and corresponding authority may exchange information concerning the complaint.

529   Monitoring by Commissioner of conduct of investigation

(1)  The Commissioner is to monitor investigations by a Council into complaints.
(2)  A Council investigating a complaint is to report to the Commissioner on the progress of the investigation if required to do so by the Commissioner.
(3)  A Council is required to provide any assistance required by the Commissioner to monitor investigations by the Council (including access to or a copy of all documents held by the Council that relate to the complaint or are required for the purpose of monitoring the investigation).

530   Directions by Commissioner about conduct of investigation

(1)  The Commissioner may give a Council directions on the handling of a complaint being investigated by the Council if the Commissioner considers that it is in the public interest to do so having regard to the seriousness of the complaint.
(2)  The directions may include, for example, directions to pursue a particular line of inquiry or directions concerning the time for completing the investigation.
(3)  Directions may not be given on the decision to be taken by a Council following the investigation.
(4)  If the directions of the Commissioner about the investigation of a complaint are not complied with, the Commissioner may, under section 526 (Investigation of complaints by Commissioner), take over the investigation of the complaint.
(5)  The Commissioner may also issue general guidelines to a Council about the investigation of complaints.

531   Appointment of investigator

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council investigating or required to investigate a complaint may, in writing, appoint a suitably qualified person as an investigator to investigate the complaint as agent of the Commissioner or Council.
(2)  Such an appointment may be made generally (to apply for all complaints or for all complaints of a specified class) or for a specified complaint.

531A   Authorised persons

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council may, in writing, appoint suitably qualified persons to be authorised persons for the purposes of this Part.
(2)  An authorised person may exercise any or all of the functions of an investigator that are or would be exercisable by an investigator appointed by the Commissioner or Council, as the case may be, and accordingly references in this Act and the regulations to such an investigator extend to an authorised person.
(3)  An authorised person may exercise any such functions in relation to a complaint whether or not an investigator has been appointed in relation to the complaint.
(4)  An appointment under this section may be made generally (to apply for all complaints or for all complaints of a specified class) or for a specified complaint.

532   Independent investigation of certain complaints

(1)  The Commissioner is to arrange for a complaint to be investigated by an independent investigator if the Commissioner decides not to conduct the investigation into the complaint under section 526 (Investigation of complaints by Commissioner) and:
(a)  the Commissioner is satisfied that investigation by an independent investigator is in the interests of justice or in the public interest, or
(b)  the relevant Council is satisfied that investigation by an independent investigator is in the interests of justice or in the public interest and requests the Commissioner to arrange for the investigation.
(2)  The independent investigator is to report to the Commissioner on his or her investigation of the complaint.
(3)  This Part applies to any such investigation as if it were conducted by the Council (except that the decision on the complaint is to be made by the Commissioner after consideration of the report of the independent investigator).
(4)  The Commissioner and each Council are to provide any assistance required by the independent investigator to conduct an investigation into a complaint (including copies of or access to all documents held by the Commissioner or Council that relate to the complaint or are required for the purpose of investigating the complaint).
(5)  The independent investigator is to provide a copy of his or her report on the investigation to the relevant Council.

533   Referral of matters to costs assessors

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council may at their discretion, for the purpose of investigating a complaint, apply under Division 11 of Part 3.2 for an assessment of costs claimed by an Australian legal practitioner.
(2)  Any such application may be made outside the 60-day period referred to in section 350 (Application by clients for costs assessment).
(3)  In exercising their discretion under subsection (1), the Commissioner or a Council must consider whether the client was aware of his or her right to apply for a review of the costs within that 60-day period and, if the client was aware, whether the application may cause significant injustice to the practitioner.
(4)  Subject to this section, Division 11 of Part 3.2 applies to any such application as if the Commissioner or Council were a client of the practitioner.
(5)  No fee is payable under section 354 (How to make an application for costs assessment) for any such application.

534   Conduct that may be investigated

(1)  An investigation may extend to conduct of the Australian legal practitioner concerned revealed during the investigation where:
(a)  the conduct is related to the subject-matter of the complaint and involves the complainant but is not within an allegation contained in the complaint, or
(b)  the conduct is not related to the subject-matter of the complaint but involves the complainant, or
(c)  the conduct is related to the subject-matter of the complaint but does not involve the complainant, or
(d)  the conduct is not related to the subject-matter of the complaint and does not involve the complainant.
(2)  The Australian legal practitioner must be informed in writing of the extended investigation as soon as practicable after the investigation is extended and must be given a reasonable opportunity to make submissions regarding the additional matters.
(3)  Subsection (2) does not apply if, under section 508 (Practitioner to be notified of complaint), notice of the complaint was not given to the Australian legal practitioner.
(4)  Matters arising in connection with subsection (1) (a) may be made the subject of a separate complaint under section 503 (Complaints) or of modification of a complaint under section 535 (Modified complaints).
(5)  Matters arising in connection with subsection (1) (b), (c) or (d) may be made the subject of a separate complaint under section 503 (Complaints).
(6)  The making of the separate complaint or the modification of the complaint as referred to in subsection (4) or (5) need not occur until the extended investigation has been completed.
(7)  If matters arising in connection with subsection (1) (a)–(d) are made the subject of a separate complaint under section 503 (Complaints), the separate complaint need not be the subject of a separate or further investigation if the Commissioner or Council investigating the original complaint is satisfied that the matter has already been sufficiently investigated during the investigation of the original complaint.

535   Modified complaints

(1)  The Commissioner or Council investigating a complaint may, during or after completion of the investigation, by instrument in writing, modify the complaint by doing either or both of the following:
(a)  omitting or altering any allegations or details in the complaint,
(b)  adding additional allegations or details to the complaint.
(2)  A modification of a complaint:
(a)  must relate to the subject-matter of the original complaint, and
(b)  may be made even though the conduct to which the modification relates occurred more than 3 years before the date of the modification.
(3)  Before taking action under subsection (1), the Commissioner or Council is to consult the original complainant (except where the Commissioner or Council proposing to take the action is the complainant).
(4)  A modified complaint need not be the subject of a separate or further investigation if the Commissioner or Council investigating the original complaint is satisfied that the matter has already been sufficiently investigated during the investigation of the original complaint.
(5)  Sections 508 (Practitioner to be notified of complaint), 509 (Submissions by practitioner) and 512 (Withdrawal of complaints) apply, with any necessary adaptations, to a modification of a complaint under this section in the same way as they apply to a complaint made under section 503 (Complaints).

536   Application of Chapter 6

Chapter 6 (Provisions relating to investigations) applies to an investigation under this Part.

Part 4.5 Decision of Commissioner or Council

537   Decision of Commissioner or Council after investigation

(1)  After completion of an investigation of a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, the Commissioner or a Council must:
(a)  commence proceedings in the Tribunal under this Chapter, or
(b)  dismiss the complaint under this Part, or
(c)  take action under section 540 (Summary conclusion of complaint procedure by caution, reprimand, compensation order or imposition of conditions)).
(2)  Unless section 540 (Summary conclusion of complaint procedure by caution, reprimand, compensation order or imposition of conditions) applies, the Council or the Commissioner must commence proceedings in the Tribunal with respect to a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner if satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood that the practitioner will be found by the Tribunal to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(3)  Nothing in this section affects section 512 (Withdrawal of complaints).

538   Decision of Commissioner or Council without investigation

(1)  This section applies to a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, where the Commissioner or relevant Council is satisfied that, having regard to the nature of the subject-matter of the complaint and the reasonable likelihood that the Tribunal will find that the practitioner has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, action should be taken under this section.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may commence proceedings in the Tribunal under this Chapter in relation to a complaint to which this section applies without the need to commence or complete an investigation.
(3)  A Council is not to commence proceedings pursuant to this section unless the Commissioner concurs.

539   Dismissal of complaint

(1)  After completion of an investigation of a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, the Commissioner or a Council may dismiss the complaint in whole or in part if satisfied that:
(a)  there is no reasonable likelihood that the practitioner will be found by the Tribunal to have engaged in either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, or
(b)  it is in the public interest to do so.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may make a compensation order under Part 4.9 if the complaint is dismissed under this section on the ground of the public interest and the complainant requested a compensation order in respect of the complaint.

540   Summary conclusion of complaint procedure by caution, reprimand, compensation order or imposition of conditions

(1)  This section applies if:
(a)  either:
(i)  the Commissioner or a Council completes an investigation of a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, or
(ii)  the report of an independent investigator is given to the Commissioner, and
(b)  the Commissioner or Council (as the case requires):
(i)  is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood that the practitioner would be found by the Tribunal to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct (but not professional misconduct), and
(ii)  is satisfied that the practitioner is generally competent and diligent, and
(iii)  is satisfied that the taking of action under this section is justified having regard to all the circumstances of the case (including the seriousness of the conduct concerned) and to whether any other substantiated complaints have been made against the practitioner.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may do any or all of the following:
(a)  caution the practitioner,
(b)  reprimand the practitioner,
(c)  make a compensation order under Part 4.9 if the complainant requested a compensation order in respect of the complaint,
(d)  determine that a specified condition be imposed on the practitioner’s practising certificate.
(3)  Failure to attend as required by the Commissioner or Council to receive a caution or reprimand is capable of being professional misconduct.
(4)  If action is taken under subsection (2), no further action is to be taken under this Chapter with respect to the complaint.
(5)  If the Commissioner or Council decides to reprimand or make a compensation order against an Australian legal practitioner under this section, or that a condition be imposed on an Australian legal practitioner’s practising certificate under this section, the practitioner may apply to the Tribunal for an administrative review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997 of the decision.
(6)  If the Commissioner determines that a specified condition be imposed on a practising certificate, the appropriate Council is required to impose and maintain the condition. The condition may be amended, suspended, reinstated or revoked with the concurrence of the Commissioner.

541   Record of decision

The Commissioner or a Council must cause a record of their decision with respect to a complaint, together with reasons for the decision, to be kept in respect of each complaint dealt with under this Part.

542   Reasons to be provided to complainant and practitioner

(1)  If a complaint has been made about an Australian legal practitioner, the complainant and the practitioner are entitled to receive a statement of reasons from the Commissioner or Council, as the case requires, in relation to:
(a)  a decision to dismiss the complaint, or
(b)  a decision to commence proceedings in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint, or
(c)  a decision to take action under section 540 (Summary conclusion of complaint procedure by caution, reprimand, compensation order or imposition of conditions), or
(d)  a decision to omit, from the allegations particularised in a disciplinary application made to the Tribunal in respect of the complaint, matter that was originally part of the complaint.
(2)  The right of the complainant to apply to the Commissioner for a review of the decision must be included in the statement under this section, except in the case of a decision to commence proceedings in the Tribunal.
(3)  A statement to a complainant is not required under this section in the case of an official complaint.

Part 4.6 Review of Councils’ decisions

543   Application for review

(1)  A complainant may apply to the Commissioner for a review of any of the following decisions made by a Council:
(a)  a decision to dismiss a complaint made by the complainant,
(b)  a decision to caution or reprimand the Australian legal practitioner concerned, or make a compensation order against the practitioner, because of the complaint,
(c)  a decision to omit, from the allegations particularised in a disciplinary application made to the Tribunal in respect of a complaint, matter that was originally part of the complaint.
(2)  The application for review is to be in writing.
(3)  The application for review may be made at any time within 2 months after the decision is notified to the complainant.
(4)  If the Council does not notify the complainant of its decision with respect to the complaint within 6 months after the complaint was referred to the Council, the matter may be reviewed under this Part. In that case, the Council is taken to have dismissed the complaint for the purposes of this Part.
(5)  The Commissioner may postpone a review referred to in subsection (4) for a specified period if satisfied that there is good reason for the Council’s delay in making a decision with respect to the complaint. In that case, the Council is taken to have dismissed the complaint for the purposes of this Part if it does not notify the complainant of its decision within that further specified period.

544   Reviews

(1)  The Commissioner is to review each decision of a Council that is the subject of an application for review under this Part.
(2)  The Commissioner may also review a Council’s decision (of a type referred to in section 543 (1) (Application for review)) at the request of the Council or on the Commissioner’s own initiative.
(3)  The Commissioner may conduct a review in such manner as the Commissioner thinks fit and is not limited to considering those matters considered by the Council in making the decision that is the subject of review.
(4)  The Commissioner must consult with a Council before completing a review of the Council’s decision.
(5)  The Commissioner has the same powers when reviewing a decision of the Council as the Commissioner has under this Act when investigating a complaint.
(6)  The Commissioner is not to review a decision of a Council that is the subject of an application by the Australian legal practitioner concerned to the Tribunal for an administrative review of the decision, unless the Tribunal orders that the review by the Commissioner may proceed.

545   Decision of Commissioner on review

(1)  When the Commissioner has completed the review of a Council’s decision, the Commissioner must do any one or more of the following:
(a)  confirm the decision of the Council in whole or in part,
(b)  refer the matter to mediation,
(c)  re-investigate the complaint or direct the relevant Council to do so,
(d)  investigate any part of the complaint that was omitted by the Council from the allegations particularised in the disciplinary application made by the Council,
(e)  direct the Council to investigate, or re-investigate, any part of the complaint that was omitted by the Council from the allegations particularised in the disciplinary application made by the Council,
(f)  caution or reprimand the Australian legal practitioner,
(g)  make a compensation order under Part 4.9 (Compensation) if the complainant requested a compensation order in respect of the complaint, whether or not in substitution for a compensation order made by the Council,
(h)  commence proceedings in the Tribunal against the Australian legal practitioner,
(i)  apply to the Tribunal for the variation of a disciplinary application to include matter that was omitted from the disciplinary application by the Council and that was originally part of the complaint.
(2)  If the Commissioner decides to re-investigate a complaint, or to investigate part of a complaint, the provisions of this Chapter, and any other relevant provisions of this Act, apply as if the Commissioner had taken over the investigation of the complaint.
(3)  A Council is required to comply with a direction of the Commissioner under this section. The Commissioner may take further action under this section if the Council fails to comply with the direction.
(4)  If the Commissioner decides to reprimand or make a compensation order against an Australian legal practitioner under this section, the practitioner may apply to the Tribunal for an administrative review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997 of the decision.

546   Notification about review of Council decisions

(1)  The Commissioner must cause his or her decision on a review of a Council’s decision with respect to a complaint, together with his or her reasons for the decision, to be notified in writing to the complainant, the Australian legal practitioner against whom the complaint was made and the Council.
(2)  The complainant is to be notified under this section even if the complainant did not apply for the review.

547   Assistance by Council

A Council is required to provide any assistance required by the Commissioner to conduct a review or re-investigation (including access to or a copy of all documents held by the Council that relate to the complaint or are required for the purpose of the review or re-investigation).

Part 4.7 Immediate suspension of local practising certificate

548   Immediate suspension of local practising certificate

(1)  This section applies if the Commissioner or the relevant Council considers it necessary in the public interest to immediately suspend a local practising certificate on the ground of the seriousness of the conduct in respect of which a complaint has been made in relation to the holder of the certificate.
(2)  The Council may immediately suspend the practising certificate. The Commissioner may direct the Council to immediately suspend the practising certificate, and, if so directed, the Council must immediately suspend the practising certificate.
(3)  The suspension operates until the earliest of the following:
(a)  the complaint is withdrawn or dismissed,
(b)  the suspension is revoked,
(c)  the subject-matter of the complaint is finally dealt with by the Tribunal,
(d)  the suspension is successfully appealed.
(4)  The Council must give written notice of the suspension to the holder of the practising certificate and that notice must:
(a)  include an information notice about the suspension, and
(b)  indicate the period of operation of the suspension as provided by subsection (3), and
(c)  state that the practitioner may make representations about the suspension.
(5)  The suspension takes effect on the day that notice of the suspension is given to the holder.
(6)  The holder may make written representations to the Commissioner or the Council about the suspension, and the Commissioner or the Council must consider the representations.
(7)  The Council may revoke the suspension at any time (unless the suspension was directed by the Commissioner). The Commissioner may at any time direct the Council to revoke the suspension (even if the suspension was not at the direction of the Commissioner).
(8)  A decision to revoke a suspension need not be in response to any written representations made by the holder.
Note. Section 80 (Return of local practising certificate) provides for the Council to require the return of a local practising certificate that has been suspended.

549   Appeal

(1)  A person may appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision of the Commissioner or a Council under this Part to suspend or direct the suspension of a local practising certificate.
(2)  The Supreme Court may make any order it considers appropriate on the appeal.

550   Other powers to suspend not affected

Nothing in this Part affects any other power under this Act to suspend a local practising certificate, and any such power may be exercised despite the existence of a power to suspend the certificate under this Part.

Part 4.8 Proceedings in Tribunal

551   Commencement of proceedings

(1)  Proceedings may be commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the whole or part of a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner by an application (a disciplinary application) made by the Commissioner or a Council in accordance with this Chapter and containing one or more allegations of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(2)  An allegation in the disciplinary application must relate to the subject-matter of the complaint but need not be an allegation made in the original complaint or have been the subject of separate or further investigation under this Chapter.

552   Time for commencing proceedings

(1)  A disciplinary application may be made to the Tribunal at any time within 6 months after the Council or Commissioner decides that proceedings be commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint concerned.
(2)  Despite subsection (1), the Tribunal may, on application in writing by the Council or Commissioner, as the case may require, extend the time for making a disciplinary application.
(3)  In exercising the power to extend the time for making a disciplinary application, the Tribunal is to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, and (without affecting the generality of the foregoing) the Tribunal is to have regard to the following:
(a)  the public interest,
(b)  the extent to which, having regard to the delay, there is or may be prejudice to the legal practitioner concerned by reason that evidence that would have been available if the application had been made within the 6-month period is no longer available,
(c)  the reasonableness of the applicant’s explanation for the delay in making the application.
(4)  The time for making a disciplinary application may be extended under subsection (2) although that time has expired.
(5)  (Repealed)
(6)  For the purposes of subsection (1), a decision that proceedings be commenced is made when:
(a)  the Council or Commissioner decides that there is a reasonable likelihood that the legal practitioner concerned will be found by the Tribunal to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, as referred to in section 537 (2) (Decision of Commissioner or Council after investigation) or 538 (1) (Decision of Commissioner or Council without investigation), or
(b)  the Commissioner decides to commence proceedings in the Tribunal against the legal practitioner concerned under section 545 (1) (h) (Decision of Commissioner on review).
(7)  An official record or notification of a decision referred to in subsection (6) (a) or (b) and stating the date the decision was made is evidence that the decision was made and of the date the decision was made.

553   Hearings

The Tribunal is to conduct a hearing into each allegation particularised in a disciplinary application made to the Tribunal.

554   Joinder

The Tribunal may, subject to its procedural rules (within the meaning of Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013) and the rules of procedural fairness, order the joinder of more than one disciplinary application against the same or different Australian legal practitioners.

555   Variation of disciplinary application

(1)  The Tribunal may vary a disciplinary application, on the application of the person who made the disciplinary application or on its own motion, so as to omit allegations or to include additional allegations, if satisfied that it is reasonable to do so having regard to all the circumstances.
(2)  The Commissioner is to be regarded as the applicant in connection with a disciplinary application for the purposes of an application by the Commissioner under section 545 (1) (i) (Decision of Commissioner on review).
(3)  Without limiting subsection (1), when considering whether or not it is reasonable to vary a disciplinary application, the Tribunal is to have regard to whether varying the disciplinary application will affect the fairness of the proceedings.
(4)  The inclusion of an additional allegation is not precluded on any or all of the following grounds:
(a)  the additional allegation has not been the subject of a complaint,
(b)  the additional allegation has not been the subject of an investigation,
(c)  the alleged conduct concerned occurred more than 3 years ago.
(5)  (Repealed)

556   Nature of allegations

(1)  A disciplinary application in respect of a complaint cannot be challenged on the ground that the allegations contained in the application do not deal with all of the matters raised in the complaint or deal differently with matters raised in the complaint or deal with additional matters.
(2)  This section applies whether the allegations were included in the disciplinary application as made to the Tribunal or were included by way of variation of the application.

557   Substitution of applicant

(1)  If a disciplinary application was made by the Commissioner, the Tribunal may, on the application of the Commissioner or a Council, and if satisfied that it is appropriate to do so, direct that a Council is to be regarded as the applicant in connection with the disciplinary application.
(1A)  If a disciplinary application was made by a Council, the Tribunal may, on the application of the Commissioner or the Council, and if satisfied that it is appropriate to do so, direct that the Commissioner is to be regarded as the applicant in connection with the disciplinary application.
(2)  This section has effect even if a hearing of the matter has commenced before the Tribunal.

558–560   (Repealed)

561   Procedural lapses and defects in appointments

(1)  The Tribunal may order that a failure by the Commissioner or a Council, or a person acting for them or under their direction, to observe a procedural requirement in relation to a complaint (including the making, investigation or referral of a complaint, the giving of notice in connection with a complaint, or the making of a decision in connection with a complaint) is to be disregarded, if satisfied that:
(a)  the failure has not caused substantial injustice to the parties to the hearing, or
(b)  any substantial injustice caused by the failure is outweighed by the public interest in having the complaint dealt with by the Tribunal, or
(c)  any substantial injustice caused by the failure can be remedied by an order of the Tribunal.
(2)  Subsection (1) applies to a failure occurring before proceedings were commenced in the Tribunal in relation to the complaint as well as to a failure occurring afterwards.
(3)  A defect or irregularity in the appointment of any person exercising, or purporting to exercise, a power or function under this Chapter or Chapter 6 does not invalidate an act done or omitted by the person in good faith.

562   Determinations of Tribunal

(1) Orders generally
If, after it has completed a hearing under this Part in relation to a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, the Tribunal is satisfied that the practitioner has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, the Tribunal may make such orders as it thinks fit, including any one or more of the orders specified in this section.
(2) Orders requiring official implementation in this jurisdiction
The Tribunal may make the following orders under this subsection:
(a)  an order that the name of the practitioner be removed from the local roll,
(b)  an order that the practitioner’s local practising certificate be suspended for a specified period or cancelled,
(c)  an order that a local practising certificate not be issued to the practitioner before the end of a specified period,
(d)  an order that:
(i)  specified conditions be imposed on the practitioner’s practising certificate issued or to be issued under this Act, and
(ii)  the conditions be imposed for a specified period, and
(iii)  specifies the time (if any) after which the practitioner may apply to the Tribunal for the conditions to be amended or removed,
(e)  an order reprimanding the practitioner,
(f)  an order that the name of the practitioner be removed from the roll of public notaries maintained under the Public Notaries Act 1997.
(3) Orders requiring official implementation in another jurisdiction
The Tribunal may make the following orders under this subsection:
(a)  an order recommending that the name of the practitioner be removed from an interstate roll,
(b)  an order recommending that the practitioner’s interstate practising certificate be suspended for a specified period or cancelled,
(c)  an order recommending that an interstate practising certificate not be granted to the practitioner before the end of a specified period,
(d)  an order recommending that:
(i)  specified conditions be imposed on the practitioner’s interstate practising certificate, and
(ii)  the conditions be imposed for a specified period, and
(iii)  the conditions specify the time (if any) after which the practitioner may apply to the Tribunal for the conditions to be amended or removed.
(4) Orders requiring compliance by practitioner
The Tribunal may make the following orders under this subsection:
(a)  an order that the practitioner pay a fine of a specified amount,
(b)  an order that the practitioner undertake and complete a specified course of further legal education,
(c)  an order that the practitioner undertake a specified period of practice under supervision,
(d)  an order that the practitioner do or refrain from doing something in connection with the practice of law,
(e)  an order that the practitioner cease to accept instructions as a public notary in relation to notarial services,
(f)  an order that the practitioner’s practice, or the financial affairs of the practitioner or of the practitioner’s practice, be conducted for a specified period in a specified way or subject to specified conditions,
(g)  an order that the practitioner’s practice be subject to periodic inspection for a specified period,
(h)  an order that the practitioner undergo counselling or medical treatment or act in accordance with medical advice given to the practitioner,
(i)  an order that the practitioner use the services of an accountant or other financial specialist in connection with the practitioner’s practice,
(j)  an order that the practitioner not apply for a local practising certificate before the end of a specified period.
Note. This subsection is not an exhaustive statement of orders that must be complied with by the practitioner.
(5) Ancillary or other orders
The Tribunal may make ancillary or other orders, including an order for payment by the practitioner of expenses associated with orders under subsection (4), as assessed or reviewed in or in accordance with the order or as agreed.
(6) Alternative finding
The Tribunal may find that a person has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct even though the complaint or disciplinary application alleged professional misconduct or may find that a person has engaged in professional misconduct even though the complaint or disciplinary application alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct.
(7) Maximum fine
The amount ordered by the Tribunal under this section to be paid by way of fines by any one Australian legal practitioner in connection with the Tribunal’s findings about a complaint must not exceed in total:
(a)  $10,000 in the case of unsatisfactory professional conduct not amounting to professional misconduct, or
(b)  $75,000 in the case of professional misconduct.

If the Tribunal finds that the practitioner has engaged in both professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct not amounting to professional misconduct, the amount must not exceed $75,000 in total.

(8) Reprimands
If the Tribunal makes an order reprimanding the practitioner, the Tribunal is to publish the order and a statement of its reasons for making the order.
(9)  It is sufficient compliance with the requirement to publish an order under subsection (8) if the Tribunal provides to the Commissioner sufficient information to enable the Commissioner to exercise the Commissioner’s powers or functions in respect of the Register of Disciplinary Action required to be kept under Part 4.10 (Publicising disciplinary action).
(10)  (Repealed)

563   Interlocutory and interim orders

(1)  The Tribunal may make interlocutory or interim orders as it thinks fit before making its final decision about a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner.
(2)  Without limiting subsection (1), orders of the kinds referred to in section 562 (Determinations of Tribunal) may be made as interlocutory or interim orders.

564   Consent orders

(1)  The Tribunal may, with the consent of the Australian legal practitioner concerned contained in a written instrument, make orders under this Part without conducting or completing a hearing in relation to the complaint.
(2)  Consent may be given before or after the proceedings were commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint.
(3)  If consent is given before the proceedings were commenced, the requirement to conduct an investigation of the complaint (whether commenced or not) may be dispensed with, and any investigation of the complaint already being conducted may be suspended or terminated.
(4)  This section does not apply to consent given by the practitioner unless the practitioner, the Commissioner and (if applicable) the relevant Council have agreed on the terms of an instrument of consent.
(5)  Without limiting what may be included in the instrument of consent, the instrument is to contain an agreed statement of facts (including as to the grounds of complaint) and may contain undertakings on the part of the practitioner.
(6)  The instrument of consent must be filed with the Tribunal.
(7)  Nothing in this section affects the procedures regarding the commencement of proceedings in the Tribunal where consent was given before the proceedings are commenced.
(8)  If consent was given before the proceedings are commenced, the proceedings are nevertheless to be commenced with respect to the complaint in the same way as if the consent had not yet been given.
(9)  The Tribunal is to be constituted in the same way as for the conduct of a hearing into the complaint.
(10)  In deciding whether to make orders under this Part pursuant to an instrument of consent, the Tribunal may make such inquiries of the parties as it thinks fit and may, despite any such consent, conduct or complete a hearing in relation to the complaint if it considers it to be in the public interest to do so.

565   Compliance with determinations and orders

(1)  Persons and bodies having relevant powers or functions under this Act must:
(a)  give effect to any order of the Tribunal made under section 562 (Determinations of Tribunal), 563 (Interlocutory and interim orders) or 564 (Consent orders) that requires official implementation in this jurisdiction, and
(b)  enforce any order of the Tribunal made under any of those sections that requires compliance by an Australian legal practitioner (except to the extent that the order relates to the practitioner’s practice of law in another jurisdiction).
Note. Section 588 (Compliance with orders made under corresponding laws) contains provisions relating to compliance in this jurisdiction with orders made under corresponding laws.
(2)  The applicant that made the disciplinary application concerned must ensure that persons and bodies having relevant powers or functions under a corresponding law of another jurisdiction are notified of the making and contents of:
(a)  any order of the Tribunal made under section 562 (Determinations of Tribunal), 563 (Interlocutory and interim orders) or 564 (Consent orders) that requires official implementation in the other jurisdiction, and
(b)  any order of the Tribunal made under any of those sections that requires compliance by an Australian legal practitioner (to the extent that the order relates to the practitioner’s practice of law in the other jurisdiction).
(3)  If the Tribunal makes an order that the name of an Australian legal practitioner who is a local lawyer be removed from the local roll, the Supreme Court is to order the removal of the name from the roll.
(4)  If the Tribunal makes an order that an Australian legal practitioner pay a fine, a copy of the order may be filed in the registry of a court having jurisdiction to give judgment for a debt of the same amount as the amount of the fine and the order may be enforced as if it were an order of the court.
(5)  Any fine imposed on a legal practitioner by the Tribunal must be paid in the manner and within the period specified by the Tribunal and is to be paid to the Public Purpose Fund.

566   (Repealed)

567   Notification of progress and result of proceedings before Tribunal

(1)  The applicant in connection with a disciplinary application made to the Tribunal must cause the complainant to be notified in writing of the determination of the Tribunal.
(2)  This section does not apply in relation to an official complaint.

568   Early termination of proceedings before Tribunal

(1)  Proceedings before the Tribunal with respect to a complaint cannot be terminated, whether by withdrawal of the disciplinary application or otherwise, before the Tribunal makes its final decision about the complaint, without the leave of the Tribunal.
(2)  The Tribunal may give leave for the purposes of this section if it is satisfied that continuation of the proceedings is not warranted in the public interest.

569   Other remedies not affected

This Part does not affect any other remedy available to a complainant.

Part 4.9 Compensation

570   Request by complainant for compensation order

(1)  A complainant may request a compensation order in respect of loss suffered by:
(a)  the complainant, or
(b)  another person who is a client of the law practice to which the Australian legal practitioner concerned belongs,
(or both) because of the conduct the subject of the complaint. The complainant, or other person, suffering the loss is referred to in this Part as an aggrieved person.
(2)  A complainant who makes such a request must describe the loss suffered by the aggrieved person and the relevant circumstances.
(3)  Such a request may be made in the complaint. The request may also be made, by notice in writing to the Commissioner or the relevant Council, at any time after the making and before the disposal of the complaint.
(4)  However, such a request may not be made after proceedings have been commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint unless the Tribunal grants the complainant leave to make the request.
(5)  Such a request may only be made within 6 years after the conduct that caused the loss is alleged to have occurred.

571   Compensation orders

(1)  A compensation order is an order, made in respect of a complaint against an Australian legal practitioner, to compensate the aggrieved person for loss suffered because of conduct that is the subject of the complaint.
(2)  A compensation order consists of one or more of the following:
(a)  an order that the practitioner cannot recover or must repay the whole or a specified part of the amount charged to the aggrieved person by the practitioner in respect of specified legal services,
(b)  an order discharging a lien possessed by the practitioner in respect of a specified document or class of documents,
(c)  an order that the practitioner pay to the aggrieved person, by way of monetary compensation for the loss, a specified amount.
(3)  A compensation order under subsection (2) (a) preventing recovery of an amount is effective even if proceedings to recover the amount (or any part of it) have been commenced by or on behalf of the practitioner.
(4)  A compensation order under subsection (2) (a) requiring repayment of an amount is effective even if a court has ordered payment of the amount (or an amount of which it is part) in proceedings brought by or on behalf of the practitioner.
(5)  A compensation order under subsection (2) (c) requiring payment of an amount exceeding:
(a)  $25,000, except where paragraph (b) applies, or
(b)  $10,000, where the order is made by:
(i)  the Commissioner or a Council under section 540 (Summary conclusion of complaint procedure by caution, reprimand, compensation order or imposition of conditions) or section 573 (3) (Making of compensation orders), or
(ii)  the Commissioner under section 545 (Decision of Commissioner on review),
is not to be made unless the complainant and the practitioner both consent to the order.

572   Prerequisites to making of compensation orders

(1)  Unless the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner concerned agree, a compensation order is not to be made unless the person or body making it is satisfied:
(a)  that the aggrieved person has suffered loss because of the conduct concerned, and
(b)  that it is in the interests of justice that the order be made.
(2)  A compensation order is not to be made in respect of any loss for which the aggrieved person has received or is entitled to receive:
(a)  compensation received or receivable under an order that has been made by a court, or
(b)  compensation paid or payable from a Fidelity Fund of any jurisdiction, where a relevant claim for payment from the Fund has been made or determined.

573   Making of compensation orders

(1)  If the Tribunal has found that an Australian legal practitioner has engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct in relation to a complaint, the Tribunal may:
(a)  make a compensation order, or
(b)  refer the matter to the Commissioner for the making of a compensation order.
(2)  The Commissioner may make a compensation order if the Tribunal has referred the matter to the Commissioner for the making of a compensation order. A compensation order made under this subsection is taken to have been made by the Tribunal for the purposes of section 729A (Appeals against orders and decisions of Tribunal).
(3)  The Commissioner or relevant Council may:
(a)  where proceedings are not proposed to be commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint concerned—make a compensation order referred to in:
(i)  section 539 or 540 (in the case of the Commissioner or Council), or
(ii)  section 545 (in the case of the Commissioner), or
(b)  where proceedings are proposed to be commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint concerned—make a compensation order before the proceedings are commenced, if the Commissioner or Council is satisfied that the Australian legal practitioner against whom the complaint is made is likely to be found to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(4)  To avoid any doubt, subsection (3) (b) extends to the making of a compensation order referred to in section 545, where proceedings are proposed to be commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint concerned.
(5)  If the Commissioner or relevant Council decides to make a compensation order against an Australian legal practitioner under subsection (3) (b), the practitioner may apply to the Tribunal for an administrative review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997 of the decision. The administrative review is to be undertaken by the Tribunal:
(a)  when conducting a hearing with respect to the complaint, or
(b)  if the matter does not proceed to a hearing or the proceedings with respect to the complaint are terminated—during separate proceedings with respect to the application for administrative review.
(6)  If:
(a)  the Commissioner or relevant Council makes a compensation order, and
(b)  proceedings are subsequently commenced in the Tribunal with respect to the complaint concerned,
the Tribunal may make a further order under subsection (1), but the order, if requiring payment of an amount (when added to the amount in the original order) exceeding $25,000, is not to be made unless the complainant and the Australian legal practitioner both consent to the order.
(7)  A compensation order may specify the person to whom monetary compensation is payable, whether to the aggrieved person or to another person on behalf of the aggrieved person.

574   Enforcement of compensation orders

(1)  A copy of a compensation order made by the Commissioner or a Council may be filed in the Local Court and the order (so far as it relates to any amount payable under the order) may be enforced as if it were an order of the court.
Note. A compensation order made by the Tribunal is enforceable under section 78 of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013.
(2)  (Repealed)

575   Other remedies not affected

The recovery of compensation awarded under this Part does not affect any other remedy available to an aggrieved person, but any compensation so awarded is to be taken into account in any other proceedings by or on behalf of the aggrieved person in respect of the same loss.

Part 4.10 Publicising disciplinary action

576   Definitions

In this Division:

disciplinary action against an Australian legal practitioner means any of the following actions taken under a law of this or another jurisdiction, whether or not taken under this Chapter or under provisions of a corresponding law that correspond to this Chapter:

(a)  the suspension or cancellation of the Australian practising certificate of the practitioner,
(b)  the refusal to grant or renew an Australian practising certificate applied for by the practitioner (other than a refusal on the ground that the practitioner is not eligible to apply for the grant or renewal),
(c)  the removal of the name of the practitioner from an Australian roll,
(d)  the making of an order by a court or tribunal, or by another person or body, for or following a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct by the practitioner, other than an order cautioning the practitioner,
(e)  the reprimanding of the practitioner, or the making of a compensation order against the practitioner, by a person or body without a formal finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct,
(f)  the appointment of a manager or receiver for a legal practice of which the practitioner is a legal practitioner associate, where the associate is specified or referred to in the notice of appointment served on the law practice.
Note. Sections 625 and 632 (Effect of service of notice of appointment) refer to service of such a notice.

577   Register of Disciplinary Action

(1)  The Commissioner is to keep a register (in this Act referred to as the Register of Disciplinary Action) of:
(a)  disciplinary action taken under this Act against Australian legal practitioners, and
(b)  disciplinary action taken under a corresponding law against Australian legal practitioners who are or were enrolled or practising in this jurisdiction when the conduct that is the subject of the disciplinary action occurred, and
(c)  disciplinary action taken under a corresponding law against Australian legal practitioners who are enrolled or practising in this jurisdiction if the disciplinary action was recorded on a register of disciplinary action kept under the corresponding law when the practitioner became enrolled or commenced to practise in this jurisdiction.
(2)  The Register is to include:
(a)  the full name of the person against whom the disciplinary action was taken (including any name by which the person was previously known and any name by which the person becomes known after the disciplinary action is taken), and
(b)  the person’s business address or former business address, and
(c)  the person’s home jurisdiction or most recent home jurisdiction, and
(d)  particulars of the disciplinary action taken, and
(e)  other particulars prescribed by the regulations.
(3)  The Register may be kept in a form determined or identified by the Commissioner and may form part of other registers.
(4)  The Register is to be made available for public inspection on:
(a)  the internet site of the Commissioner, or
(b)  an internet site identified on the internet site of the Commissioner.
(5)  Information recorded in the Register may be provided to members of the public in any other manner approved by the Commissioner.
(6)  The Commissioner may cause any error in or omission from the Register to be corrected.
(7)  The requirement to keep the Register applies only in relation to disciplinary action taken after the commencement of this section, but details relating to earlier disciplinary action may be included in the Register.
(8)  A Council or the Tribunal must provide to the Commissioner sufficient information to enable the Commissioner to exercise the Commissioner’s functions in respect of the Register.

578   Other means of publicising disciplinary action

(1)  The Commissioner or Council may publicise disciplinary action taken against an Australian legal practitioner in any manner the Commissioner or Council thinks fit.
(2)  Nothing in this section affects the provisions of this Part relating to the Register.

579   Quashing of disciplinary action

(1)  If disciplinary action is quashed on appeal or review, any reference to that disciplinary action must be removed from the Register.
(2)  If disciplinary action is quashed on appeal or review after the action was publicised by the Commissioner or a Council under section 578 (Other means of publicising disciplinary action), the result of the appeal or review must be publicised with equal prominence by the Commissioner or Council.

580   Liability for publicising disciplinary action

(1)  No liability is incurred by a protected person in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of:
(a)  publicising disciplinary action taken against an Australian legal practitioner, or
(b)  exercising the powers or functions of the Commissioner or a Council under this Part, or
(c)  keeping, publishing or enabling access to the Register.
(2)  Without limiting subsection (1), no liability (including liability in defamation) is incurred by a person publishing in good faith:
(a)  information about disciplinary action:
(i)  recorded in the Register, or
(ii)  otherwise publicised by the Commissioner or a Council under this Part,
or matter purporting to contain information of that kind where the matter is incorrect in any respect, or
(b)  a fair report or summary of that information.
(3)  In this section:

protected person means:

(a)  the State, or
(b)  the Commissioner, or
(c)  a Council, or
(d)  a person responsible for keeping the whole or any part of the Register, or
(e)  an internet service provider or internet content host, or
(f)  a member of staff of or a person acting at the direction of an authority of the State or any person or body referred to in this definition.

581   Disciplinary action taken where infirmity, injury or illness is involved

(1)  Disciplinary action taken against a person is not to be recorded in the Register or otherwise publicised under this Part if the action was taken because of the person’s inability properly to carry out the requirements of legal practice and the inability arises wholly or principally from infirmity, injury or mental or physical illness.
(2)  Subsection (1) does not apply where the disciplinary action involves:
(a)  the suspension or cancellation of the person’s Australian practising certificate, or
(b)  a refusal to grant or renew an Australian practising certificate applied for by the person, or
(c)  a restriction or prohibition on the person’s right to engage in legal practice,
but in that case the reason for the disciplinary action, and any other information relating to the infirmity, injury or mental or physical illness, is not to be recorded in the Register or otherwise publicised under this Division without the person’s consent.

582   Effect of secrecy provisions and non-disclosure orders

(1)  The provisions of this Part apply despite any confidentiality or secrecy provisions of this Act.
(2)  The provisions of this Part are subject to any order made by:
(a)  the Tribunal in relation to disciplinary action taken under this Chapter, or
(b)  a corresponding disciplinary body in relation to disciplinary action taken under provisions of a corresponding law that correspond to this Chapter, or
(c)  a court or tribunal of this or another jurisdiction,
so far as the order prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information.
(3)  Despite subsection (2), the name and other identifying particulars of the person against whom the disciplinary action was taken, and the kind of disciplinary action taken, must be recorded in the Register in accordance with the requirements of this Part and may be otherwise publicised under this Part.

Part 4.11 Inter-jurisdictional provisions

583   Protocols

(1)  The Commissioner may, after consultation with the Councils, enter into arrangements (referred to in this Part as protocols) with corresponding authorities for or with respect to investigating and dealing with conduct that appears to have occurred in more than one jurisdiction.
(2)  In particular, the protocols may make provision for or with respect to:
(a)  providing principles to assist in determining where conduct occurs, either generally or in specified classes of cases, and
(b)  giving and receiving consent for conduct occurring in a jurisdiction to be dealt with under a law of another jurisdiction, and
(c)  the procedures to be adopted for requesting and conducting the investigation of any aspect of complaints under this Chapter.

584   Request to another jurisdiction to investigate complaint

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council may request a corresponding authority to arrange for the investigation of any aspect of a complaint being dealt with by the Commissioner or Council and to provide a report on the result of the investigation.
(2)  A report on the result of the investigation received from:
(a)  the corresponding authority, or
(b)  a person or body authorised by the corresponding authority to conduct the investigation,
may be used and taken into consideration by the Commissioner or Council and the Tribunal in the course of dealing with the complaint under this Chapter.

585   Request from another jurisdiction to investigate complaint

(1)  This section applies in relation to a request received by the Commissioner or a Council from a corresponding authority to arrange for the investigation of any aspect of a complaint being dealt with under a corresponding law.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may conduct the investigation or authorise another regulatory authority of this jurisdiction to conduct it.
(3)  The provisions of this Chapter relating to the investigation of a complaint apply, with any necessary adaptations, in relation to the investigation of the relevant aspect of the complaint that is the subject of the request.
(4)  The Commissioner or Council or other regulatory authority of this jurisdiction must provide a report on the result of the investigation to the corresponding authority.

586   Sharing of information with corresponding authorities

The Commissioner and the Councils may separately or jointly enter into arrangements with a corresponding authority for providing information to the corresponding authority about:
(a)  complaints and investigations under this Chapter, and
(b)  any action taken with respect to any complaints made or investigations conducted under this Chapter, including determinations of the Tribunal under this Chapter.

587   Co-operation with other authorities

(1)  When dealing with a complaint or conducting an investigation, the Commissioner and the Councils may separately or jointly consult and co-operate with another person or body (whether in or of Australia or a foreign country) who or which has or may have relevant information or powers in relation to the person against whom the complaint was made or the person under investigation.
(2)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the Commissioner and Councils and the other person or body may exchange information concerning the complaint or investigation.

588   Compliance with orders made under corresponding laws

(1)  Persons and bodies having relevant powers or functions under this Act must:
(a)  give effect to or enforce any recommendation or order of a corresponding disciplinary body or other corresponding authority made under a corresponding law in relation to powers exercisable under this Act, and
(b)  give effect to or enforce any recommendation or order of a corresponding disciplinary body or other corresponding authority made under a corresponding law so far as the recommendation or order relates to the practice of law by the Australian legal practitioner concerned in this jurisdiction.
(2)  If a corresponding disciplinary body makes a recommendation or order that a person’s name be removed from the roll of lawyers under this Act, the Supreme Court must order the removal of the name from the local roll kept under section 32 (Roll of local lawyers).
(3)  If a corresponding disciplinary body makes a recommendation or order that an Australian legal practitioner pay a fine, a copy of the recommendation or order may be filed in the registry of a court having jurisdiction to give judgment for a debt of the same amount as the amount of the fine and the recommendation or order may be enforced as if it were an order of the court.

589   Other powers or functions not affected

Nothing in this Part affects any powers or functions that a person or body has apart from this Part.

Part 4.12 Miscellaneous

590   Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The inherent jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court with respect to the control and discipline of local lawyers are not affected by anything in this Chapter, and extend to:
(a)  local legal practitioners, and
(b)  interstate legal practitioners engaged in legal practice in this jurisdiction.

591   Rules of procedural fairness

The rules of procedural fairness, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act or the regulations, apply in relation to the investigation of complaints and the procedures of the Commissioner and the Councils under this Chapter.

592   Duty to deal with complaints efficiently and expeditiously

It is the duty of the Commissioner and the Councils to deal with complaints (including any investigations) as efficiently and expeditiously as is practicable.

593   Information about complaints procedure

(1)  Each Council and the Commissioner must ensure that information appropriate to the interests and needs of lay persons and relating to the scheme established by this Chapter, including information about:
(a)  the complaints system, including the manner of making complaints, and
(b)  the procedure for dealing with complaints,
is readily available to members of the public.
(2)  Each Council and Commissioner must provide assistance to members of the public in making complaints.
(3)  Each Council and the Commissioner must ensure that information appropriate to the interests and needs of legal practitioners and relating to the scheme established by this Chapter, including information about:
(a)  the operation of the scheme, and
(b)  the procedures adopted in relation to the scheme,
is readily available to legal practitioners.

594   Co-operation and information sharing between Commissioner and Councils

The Commissioner and the Councils must consult and co-operate with each other when dealing with a complaint or conducting an investigation under this Chapter and for that purpose may exchange information about:
(a)  complaints and investigations under this Chapter, and
(b)  any action taken with respect to any complaints made or investigations conducted under this Chapter.

595   Pre-complaint powers where client is denied access to documents

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council may exercise powers under this section for the purpose of assisting a client of an Australian legal practitioner to decide whether to make a complaint in relation to an Australian legal practitioner.
(2)  The Commissioner or Council may, by notice in writing served on the practitioner, require the practitioner to produce, at a specified time and place and to a specified person, any specified document (or a copy of the document), if:
(a)  the document relates to a matter conducted or being conducted for the client, and
(b)  the practitioner refuses to give the document to the client or to give the client access to the document, whether because of a lien claimed by the practitioner or otherwise.
(3)  The place specified in the notice at which the document is to be produced must be:
(a)  an office of the Commissioner or Council, unless paragraph (b) applies, or
(b)  if the office of the practitioner is in an area prescribed by the regulations—a place within a distance prescribed by or determined under the regulations from that office.
(4)  The person specified in the notice to whom the document is to be produced must be:
(a)  in the case of a notice given by the Commissioner—a person (whether or not an Australian legal practitioner) nominated by the Commissioner and acting as agent of the Commissioner, or
(b)  in the case of a notice given by a Council—an Australian legal practitioner acting as agent of the Council.
(5)  The Commissioner or Council may:
(a)  inspect and make notes from the document, and
(b)  retain the document for a period the Commissioner or Council thinks necessary for the purpose referred to in subsection (1).
(6)  The client may inspect and take notes from the document under the supervision of the specified person at the specified place for a reasonable period.
(7)  The practitioner is entitled to the return of any document following an inspection under this section.
(8)  Section 672 (General provisions relating to requirements under this Division) (other than section 672 (4)) applies to the requirement specified in a notice under this section in the same way as it applies to a requirement imposed on a person under section 659 (Requirement to provide access to documents and information relating to affairs of law practice).
(9)  If a complaint is made in relation to the practitioner while the document is in the custody of the Commissioner or Council and the document is relevant to the complaint, an investigator under this Chapter may take custody of and retain the document as if it had been produced under section 659 (Requirement to provide access to documents and information relating to affairs of law practice).
(10)  Nothing in this section prevents the Commissioner or Council making a complaint arising wholly or partly in connection with the document or the matter to which the document relates.
(11)  This section does not authorise the Commissioner or Council to copy the whole or a part of the document (otherwise than by making notes from the document) or require a copy of the whole or a part of the document to be made, but the Commissioner or Council may accept such a copy if it is voluntarily offered.

596   Failure to comply with orders

(1)  (Repealed)
(2)  A person who fails to comply with an order of the Tribunal under this Act or an order of a corresponding disciplinary body under a corresponding law is not entitled to apply for the grant or renewal of a local practising certificate while the failure continues.

597   Performance criteria

(1)  The Councils and the Commissioner must jointly develop performance criteria relating to the handling of complaints under this Chapter.
(2)  Each Council is to include the relevant criteria in its annual report under this Act, together with an assessment of its performance against the criteria in the period to which the report relates.
(3)  The Commissioner is to include the relevant criteria in the Commissioner’s annual report under this Act, together with an assessment of the Commissioner’s performance against the criteria in the period to which the report relates.
(4)  The Councils and the Commissioner are to ensure that the assessments referred to in subsections (2) and (3) are done in the same or a consistent manner, so as to facilitate assessment of the performance of the complaint handling system.

598   Reports to Attorney General

(1)  The Commissioner and each Council must submit to the Attorney General, at the times and in respect of the periods required by the Attorney General, reports on their respective handling of complaints.
(2)  A report is to deal with matters specified by the Attorney General and other matters the Commissioner or Council considers appropriate to include in the report.
(3)  The obligations under this section are in addition to any obligations to provide an annual or other report under this or any other Act.

599   Conditions imposed under this Chapter

Any requirements of Chapter 2 (General requirements for engaging in legal practice) relating to the imposition of conditions do not apply to conditions imposed under this Chapter.

600   Effect of other proceedings

A complaint may be made and dealt with even though the Australian legal practitioner concerned is the subject of proposed or current criminal or civil proceedings relating to the subject-matter of the complaint.

601   Protection from liability

(1)  A matter or thing done or omitted to be done by:
(a)  the Commissioner, or
(b)  the Bar Association or Law Society, or
(c)  a Council or any member of a Council, or
(d)  a committee or subcommittee of a Council or any member of a committee or subcommittee, or
(e)  any person involved in the conduct of an investigation under this Part, or
(f)  the Tribunal or any member of the Tribunal, or
(g)  a registrar of the Tribunal, or
(h)  a mediator to whom a matter is referred under this Chapter, or
(i)  any other person exercising a power or function under this Chapter, or
(j)  any member of the staff of any of the above,
does not, if the matter or thing was done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of the administration of this Chapter, subject a protected person personally to any action, liability, claim or demand.
(2)  In this section:

protected person means any of the following natural persons:

(a)  the Commissioner,
(b)  a member of a Council or committee or subcommittee of a Council,
(c)  a person involved in the conduct of an investigation under this Chapter,
(d)  a member or a registrar of the Tribunal,
(e)  a mediator to whom a matter is referred under this Chapter,
(f)  a member of the staff of the Commissioner, the Bar Association, the Law Society or the Tribunal.

602   Non-compellability of certain witnesses

(1)  A person referred to in section 601 (Protection from liability) is not compellable in any legal proceedings (including proceedings before the Tribunal) to give evidence or produce documents in respect of any matter in which the person was involved in the course of the administration of this Chapter.
(2)  This section does not apply to:
(a)  proceedings under Part 3 of the Royal Commissions Act 1923, or
(b)  proceedings before the Independent Commission Against Corruption, or
(c)  proceedings under Part 3 of the Special Commissions of Inquiry Act 1983, or
(d)  an inquiry under the Ombudsman Act 1974.

603   Confidentiality of client communications

An Australian legal practitioner must comply with a requirement under this Chapter to answer a question or to produce information or a document, despite any duty of confidentiality in respect of a communication between the practitioner and a client.

604   Waiver of privilege or duty of confidentiality

(1)  If a client of an Australian legal practitioner makes a complaint about the practitioner, the complainant is taken to have waived client legal privilege, or the benefit of any duty of confidentiality, to enable the practitioner to disclose to the appropriate authorities any information necessary for investigating and dealing with the complaint.
(2)  Without limiting subsection (1), any information so disclosed may be used in or in connection with any procedures or proceedings relating to the complaint.

605   Undertakings by Commissioner or Council regarding privileged or confidential information

(1)  The Commissioner or a Council may give undertakings regarding non-disclosure of information obtained under or for the purposes of this Chapter from or about a client of an Australian legal practitioner where the information is the subject of client legal privilege or any duty of confidentiality.
(2)  An undertaking cannot be inconsistent with any duty of the Commissioner or Council under this or any other Act to disclose information.
(3)  This section has effect whether or not the client has waived the client legal privilege or the benefit of the duty of confidentiality.

606, 607   (Repealed)

608   Undertakings by practitioner

(1)  This section applies if an Australian legal practitioner gives an undertaking to the Commissioner, a Council or the Tribunal in the course of:
(a)  the Commissioner or a Council investigating or dealing with a complaint against the practitioner, or
(b)  a mediation conducted in connection with a complaint against or a consumer dispute with the practitioner, or
(c)  proceedings before the Tribunal.
(2)  A breach of the undertaking is capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
(3)  Nothing in this section implies that breaches of other undertakings are not capable of being unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

609   Investigations not related to complaints under this Chapter

This Chapter does not affect the power of a Council to conduct an investigation into the affairs of an Australian legal practitioner or law practice under the provisions of any other Part of this Act or under any other Act.
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