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The Commissioner’s powers to investigate

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.