If the Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner considers that a lawyer's conduct is unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, the Commissioner can lay a charge before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal is an independent body set up under the Act to conduct inquiries to determine whether lawyers have been guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct [Legal Practitioners Act 1981 (SA) s 82].
Charges can also be laid by the Attorney-General, the Law Society or by any person (whether a client or otherwise) who is aggrieved by the conduct of a lawyer.
From 1 December 2019, a charge relating to conduct by a legal practitioner up to five years after the day on which the person laying the charge became aware of the conduct to which the charge relates, unless it is laid by the Attorney-General or the Tribunal allows an extension of time [s 82(2a)]. Previously there was a time limit of three years from the date of the conduct. If the charge arises from a complaint made, or a direction from the Attorney-General or the Law Society received, or from an investigation by the Commissioner commenced on the Commissioner's own initiative, before 1 December 2019, the three year time limit continues to apply [see Legal Practitioners (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2019 (SA) sch 1].
Extensions of time
From 1 December 2019, an application for an extension of time may be heard by one member of the Tribunal and/or heard by the Tribunal, if it thinks fit, at the same time as the merits of the matter [s 80(1b) and ((1ba)]. If the charge or charges arise from a complaint made, or a direction from the Attorney-General or the Law Society received, or from an investigation by the Commissioner on the Commissioner's own initiative before 1 December 2019, the application for extension of time must be heard by three members of the Tribunal [see Legal Practitioners (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2019 (SA) sch 1].
When a charge against a lawyer is laid before the Tribunal it must inquire into the conduct of the lawyer [section 82(4) of the Act].
Powers of the Tribunal
If the Tribunal considers that the lawyer has been guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct it may:
There is a right of appeal to the Supreme Court from decisions of the Tribunal.