A lawyer's conduct must be investigated if the Commissioner has:
- received a complaint about that conduct
- been directed to make an inquiry by the Attorney-General or the Law Society (where they have reasonable cause to suspect misconduct), or
The Commissioner can, on his own initiative, investigate a lawyer’s conduct if he has reasonable cause to suspect that a lawyer’s conduct amounts to Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct or Professional Misconduct.
At any stage of the process a complaint can be closed, without investigating it or without completing the investigation, for various reasons including if:
- it is outside of the Commissioner’s jurisdiction
- the Commissioner determines that it is frivolous or lacking substance
- the complainant does not respond adequately to a request for further information
- the complainant does not cooperate in the investigation or conciliation of the complaint
- it is in the public interest to close the complaint.
A complaint can be investigated by the Commissioner or a person authorised by the Commissioner (usually one of his staff).
As part of an investigation, the Commissioner will usually seek the lawyer’s version of events, look at other relevant evidence (such as the lawyer’s file), and consider any submissions that may be made by either the lawyer or the complainant.
Once the investigation is complete, the Commissioner will decide what (if any) action to take.