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About investigations

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).

A lawyer's conduct may be investigated if the Commissioner 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
  • 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.