What you need to know
For most complaints you must try to resolve the issue with the lawyer first. If you have tried and cannot fix the problem, or it's not reasonable for you to do so, we may be able to help.
Please consider the information below before making a complaint.
Complaints about the quality of service or conduct or behaviour
We can only accept a complaint about quality of service issues if you used the services of a lawyer or law practice (as a client).
Anyone can make a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct or behaviour.
There are other limits that affect whether we can accept your complaint.
Complaints about legal costs and bills
Only the person responsible for paying the lawyer’s costs (usually the client) can complain about the costs charged by the lawyer.
You must have permission to make a complaint on behalf of someone else (for example, a legal guardian, or someone with limited English language skills). We will provide you with a written authority form to complete, sign and return to us if it applies to you.
Note: In disputes about the cost of handling the distribution of proceeds from a Will and Estate only the executor can submit a complaint. We cannot accept complaints from beneficiaries.
Cost disputes - money limits apply
As of 1 July 2021, we can deal with complaints about legal bills if:
- the total bill is less than $128,760 (including barrister’s costs), or
- if the total bill is $128,760 or more, the amount in dispute is less than $12,880.
If the amount in dispute or the outstanding balance of your bill exceeds these limits, we may be able to assist you to resolve your concerns informally with your lawyer. This means we cannot compel your lawyer to take certain action about what they have charged for their services.
If we can’t help you we may provide you with other ways to get help or explain your rights to:
- make a claim under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading legislation at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), or
- apply to the Costs Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Make sure you act fast
If you are unhappy about your legal costs or a bill, you should act on it quickly. Your lawyer can sue you over an unpaid bill after 30 days. We can’t help you if you have been sued.
If your lawyer has sent you a debt recovery letter, you can find a list of legal advice services on our Other ways to get help page.
Our fact sheet Legal costs: what rights does a consumer have? explains your rights in more detail.
Complaints that we are not able to deal with
There are some complaints we are not able to deal with. These include where:
- the matter is before the courts, including where your lawyer has sued you
- the complaint is about certain non-legal services provided by lawyers
- the complaint is about a licensed conveyancer (these complaints should be made to Consumer Affairs Victoria. For more information on complaints about conveyancers, see the Problems with conveyancing page and the Consumer Affairs Victoria website), and
- the complaint is about a Judge, Magistrate or court staff (these complaints should be made directly to the Judicial Commission of Victoria).
Please refer to our What we do and don’t do page. It explains the things we can help with in more detail.
What we need from you
We ask for certain things from you to help us assess your complaint.
- We ask you to do your best to clearly identify your concerns.
- We need you to co-operate with any requests we make for further information or documents.
- If you need more time, please ask for it – do not wait until a deadline has passed.
- We also ask that you treat our staff with respect and courtesy.
Please refer to Your rights and responsibilities for more information.
What to do next
Read how Our enquiry and complaints process works page.
Find out more on our How to lodge a complaint page.
Submit your enquiry using our online form or contact us if you require assistance.