The Complaint Process
The complaint process begins once you complete, sign and provide your Complaint Form to the Law Society office. Your complaint, with all documents relevant to the complaint, is sent to the Chair of the Discipline Committee.
The Chair of the Discipline Committee will review the complaint to ensure it is within the jurisdiction of the Law Society. The Law Society does not have jurisdiction to deal with all complaints against lawyers. See below Jurisdiction & Limitations.
If the Chair believes that the Law Society can deal with your complaint, the Chair will provide you and the lawyer (or Student-at-Law) named in the complaint with the name of a member of the Discipline Committee who will be assigned to investigate your complaint. The Chair will also provide a copy of your complaint to the lawyer and request a written response from the lawyer within a specified period of time.
Once the lawyer’s response is received, it will be considered by the investigator. A copy of the lawyer’s response will be forwarded to you for further comments.
After reviewing all of the material, the investigator will report to the Chair. The Law Society aims to have investigations completed within ninety days.
When the Chair receives the investigator’s report, the Chair will do one of the following:
- Dismiss the complaint because the allegations do not amount to unprofessional conduct or unbecoming conduct; or
- Direct the lawyer to meet with a member (or members) of the Discipline Committee for a discussion about the lawyer’s conduct and why it was not proper. This often happens when the lawyer’s conduct does not met the standards of unprofessional conduct or conduct unbecoming, but is conduct that is still inappropriate; or
- Direct that your complaint move to a hearing before a Sole Inquirer (one person) or a Committee of Inquiry (three persons, one a non-lawyer).
Before any complaint can be dismissed, the complaint and the investigator’s report must also be reviewed by a non-lawyer member of the Discipline Committee. That person must agree that the complaint should be dismissed. The non-lawyer member brings a different perspective, ensuring that these decisions are not made only by lawyers.
A hearing is similar to a court proceeding. The Sole Inquirer or Committee of Inquiry are similar to a Judge. If the complaint goes to a hearing, the Law Society will act as prosecutor. The lawyer may also retain a lawyer. You may become a witness at the inquiry.
This hearing are generally open to the public. If you have any concerns about confidentiality of any matters that may come up at the hearing, please contact the Law Society at 867 873 3828.
If you any questions about the complaint process, please contact the Law Society at 867 873 3828.
JURISDICTION & LIMITATIONS
The Law Society does not have jurisdiction to deal with fee disputes between you and your lawyer. The Courts can advise you of this “taxation” process. Click here to obtain more information on Disputes involving Lawyer’s Fees.
The Law Society is not able to obtain compensation from the lawyer as a result of any financial loss you have suffered. Lawyers who provide service to the public are required to have insurance. A financial claim would be made to the lawyer’s insurance company. For information about how you might make a claim for financial compensation against a lawyer, click here.
The Law Society’s complaint process is limited to its members. However, the Law Society has a mandate to protect the public, and the profession, from persons who are not members of the Law Society practicing law in the NWT.
If you believe a person giving legal advice or providing legal services is not a member of the NWT Law Society, you can contact the Law Society to find out if they are properly registered to practice law. If a lawyer is not properly registered, this can be unauthorized practice. Please click here to learn more about Unauthorized Practice.