The Commissioner has a wide range of powers to investigate the conduct of lawyers.
It is an offence for those under investigation not to comply with the Commissioner’s requests for information and/or documents. Serious consequences flow from non-compliance - the maximum penalty is $50,000 or imprisonment for 1 year.
If the Commissioner is investigating a lawyer’s conduct, then the Commissioner can require the lawyer to assist and cooperate with the investigation, specifically by:
- directing the lawyer to produce documents and provide written information
- directing an associate of the lawyer or any other person who has relevant documents and information to provide access
- inspecting, copying or keeping documents.
There are other extensive powers of investigation, set out in Schedule 4 of the Act.