Before Making a Complaint

Step 1:  We recommend you speak to our Inquiry Line on 1800 242 958 or (02) 9377 1800 as they may assist with:

  • Any questions about the complaints process
  • Provide you with our Complaint Form and Fact Sheets by email or post
  • Arrange an appointment for people requiring assistance with making a written complaint

Step 2:  Try to resolve the issue with the lawyer

In most circumstances, you should try to resolve the issue about legal costs or services directly with the lawyer before making a complaint.

The lawyer may be able to resolve the issue once it is brought to their attention.

Some circumstances where we do not expect you to take this step:

  • Where the lawyer does not represent you (For example, the lawyer of the opposing party)
  • Where the complaint is about inappropriate personal conduct (For example, sexual harassment)

Step 3:  Can the OLSC deal with my complaint

The OLSC deals with complaints about solicitors and barristers in New South Wales.

You should read Complaints We May Not Deal With to make sure the OLSC can deal with your complaint.

Is there a time limit to make a complaint?

The OLSC may not be able to deal with your complaint if it is made outside our time limits, so make your complaint quickly if the issue cannot be resolved.

Costs Complaints

Complaints about your lawyer’s costs must be made within 60 days after the costs become payable. This time limit may shorten to 30 days if you have requested and received an itemised bill from your lawyer.  The NSW Legal Services Commissioner has a discretion to waive the time limit in limited circumstances.

Conduct Complaints

Complaints about a lawyer’s conduct (including services) must be made within 3 years of the alleged conduct.   The NSW Legal Services Commissioner has a discretion to waive the time limit in limited circumstances.

There may be other organisations better suited to deal with your complaint if:

Step 4:  Your complaint and supporting documentation

All complaints to the OLSC must:

  • be made in writing
  • Identify the lawyer complained about
  • describe the alleged conduct the subject of the complaint
  • provide copies of only relevant documents that support your complaint

Step 5:  How you can assist the OLSC

The OLSC deals with many complaints. Clear information will help us assess and handle your complaint efficiently as failure to provide clear and relevant information may delay the processing and handling of your complaint.  You should outline as much of the following as possible:

  • If you are making a complaint on behalf of another person such as a relative or friend -  tell us their name, your relationship to them and provide their authority in writing
  • If you are making a complaint about your lawyer’s costs, provide a copy of the disputed bills and costs agreement where possible
  • Clearly and succinctly describe the lawyer’s alleged conduct
  • Only provide information and documents directly relevant to the lawyer’s alleged conduct
  • Provide supporting documentation in this format where possible: In one file; in chronological order; in PDF format; unlocked; and no larger than 10 MB in file size
  • Describe what each supporting document is, and how it specifically proves the lawyer’s alleged conduct

Step 6:   What we expect from you

  • We ask that you treat us with the same courtesy, consideration and respect we are expected to give you. If we are subjected to rude or abusive behaviour, we may end an interview or phone call or we may choose to deal with you by correspondence only
  • You should also appreciate that we act impartially in dealing with complaints. This means that we do not represent either the complainant or the lawyer. Though we will always take your views into account, we do not take instruction or direction from you as to how your complaint is handled
  • If your contact details change please give us the details as soon as possible
  • It is most efficient if you contact the OLSC in writing by email or post and ensure you include the complaint reference number

Step 7:  What can you expect from us

We will:

  • treat you with courtesy, consideration and respect
  • be fair and reasonable and behave with integrity and honesty
  • act impartially
  • seek to answer your concerns, problems or complaints as quickly as possible
  • listen to your feedback to continue improving our service
  • collect, store, use and disclose your personal information in accordance with relevant law
  • inform you about, and to explain, decisions that affect you

More information about Making a Complaint

Last updated:

04 Dec 2023

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the ongoing connection Aboriginal people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of this land.

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