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 of South Australia (where they have reasonable cause to suspect 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
- it is otherwise in the public interest to do so.
A complaint can be investigated by the Commissioner or a person authorised by the Commissioner (usually one of his staff).
The Commissioner has a wide range of powers to investigate the conduct of lawyers, and it is an offence for those under investigation not to comply with the Commissioner’s requests for information.