The investigation process is confidential, it is conducted impartially, and both sides are heard during it.
If the Commissioner’s office decides to investigate a lawyer’s conduct, the following steps can be taken:
- Further information may be sought from the client (or the person who made the complaint) to assist the investigation.
- The Commissioner is usually required to notify the lawyer that they are being investigated and provide details of the original complaint. The lawyer has the right to respond.
- Usually a lawyer’s response will be provided to the client (or complainant) so that he or she can comment on what the lawyer has said about the complaint.
- That process of providing a response to the other party for comment may be repeated on a number of occasions.
- It may in some cases be appropriate for the lawyer to provide the client's file to the Commissioner for consideration.
It is important to note that there is no standard way of investigating a complaint, and no standard time frame that it will take. Each investigation must comply with the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, and that means it may on occasions take some time to complete an investigation.
This investigation process occurs as part of the larger misconduct complaint process managed by the Commissioner's office.