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Misconduct definitions

There are two definitions of misconduct under the Act:


Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct

This type of misconduct only relates to the conduct of a lawyer when he or she is practising law. It occurs when a lawyer falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect when engaging a lawyer’s services.


Professional Misconduct

This is the more serious of the two types of misconduct.  There are two categories of Professional Misconduct as follows: 

  • Where a lawyer engages in Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct (ie the less serious type of misconduct), but he or she does so substantially or consistently.
  • Where the lawyer’s conduct, either professionally or outside of the practice of the law, would justify a finding that the lawyer is not a fit and proper person to practise law.


These two definitions apply when considering conduct of a lawyer that occurs on or after 1 July 2014.  For conduct that occurred before that date, different definitions apply from prior to the Act being amended by the Legal Practitioners (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2013.