Before you make a complaint
If you have a problem with a lawyer, it is best to try and resolve it before you make a complaint. You may be able to resolve your issue before you go to the trouble of making a formal complaint to us.
Here are some things you can try:
- Talk to your lawyer. They may be able to solve the problem once they know why you are unhappy.
- Talk to the lawyer’s managing partner. They may be able to help you resolve your concerns if you cannot talk to your layer.
- Change lawyers. Please note that your current lawyer can keep your file until you have paid their bill. If you have a ‘no-win no –fee’ agreement and you change lawyers, you may have to pay any legal fees incurred to that time. Check your costs agreement or call us for more information.
- Ask us for help. We can give you suggestions on how you can resolve your concerns with your lawyer. We can also explain your rights.
If you want to make a complaint, act quickly
There are time limits for making a complaint, so you should act quickly.
For complaints about legal costs or bills, you have:
- 30 days to dispute your costs if you have received an itemised bill, and
- 60 days to dispute your costs if you have received a lump sum
You can make a complaint about your bill after you have paid it. If you don’t pay your bill, your lawyer can sue you to recover that money from 30 days after giving you their bill. We cannot accept a complaint about your bill once the lawyer sues you.
For complaints about a lawyer’s behaviour or quality of service, you have 3 years to make a complaint.
We may be able to extend the above timeframes, but only if certain circumstances exist. Please contact us to talk about your complaint.
If you decide to make a complaint
If you decide you want to make a complaint, please be sure to give us all the information that we need. The best way to do this is to fill out a complaint form.
- Complaint form (147KB PDF)
Please read the form carefully and be sure to complete all sections. Make sure you provide us with copies of all documents relevant to your complaint. If we don’t have all the information that we need, your complaint will take longer. If you are not sure what to include, please contact us.
What we do with complaints
Once we have all the information we need, we will decide what we need to do.
If we cannot deal with your complaint, we will explain to you why (see below). We may be able to give you information on how else you might deal with your issue.
If we can deal with your complaint, we may ask the lawyer for their response.
Please note that we don’t take sides: we will deal with all complaints fairly and as quickly as possible.
For further information about how we handle disputes over legal costs, please see our fact sheet: How we handle disputes (753KB PDF)
We cannot deal with some types of complaints
There are some complaints that we cannot deal with. These include:
- matters before the courts, or where your lawyer has sued you to recover unpaid legal fees
- complaints about certain non-legal services provided by lawyers (147KB PDF)
- complaints about a licensed conveyancer. Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria to complain about a licensed conveyancer. See also our Lawyers and conveyancing page
- complaints about a Judge, Magistrate or court staff. Contact the Judicial Commission of Victoria for these complaints.
If we cannot help you with your problem, we can usually explain where you can get further help.