Complaints against Legal Practitioners

In terms of section 7(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), an “attorney-at-law is an officer of the court and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”

All legal practitioners are bound to adhere to the LPA and Legal Practitioners (Professional Conduct) Rules, 2013. All legal practitioners must therefore ensure that at all times that they:

  • Are fit and proper;
  • Do not engage in acts prohibited in terms of section 9 of the LPA;
  • Are not guilty of any malpractice or misconduct, or any offence under a written law, which in the opinion of the Supreme Court makes him/her unfit to practice as an attorney-at-law
  • Do not contravene the Legal Practitioners (Professional Conduct) Rules, 2013.

Where the conduct of a legal practitioner contravenes the above mentioned requirements they may be subject to disciplinary measures as provided for in the LPA which may result their referral to a Disciplinary Committee for investigation and which may ultimately result in suspension, removal from the roll, the imposition of a fine and/or the payment of compensation.

The Office of the Chief Justice overseas the complaints procedure as provided for in the LPA. The Registrar of the Supreme Court overseas compliance with Legal Practitioners’ Licenses.

  Complaints process

  1. All complaints against a legal practitioner must be submitted, in writing, to the Registrar or Office of the Chief Justice on the prescribed form . Supporting documentation must be provided where possible.
  2. On receipt of the complaint, the Office of the Chief Justice/Registrar will acknowledge receipt of the complaint
  3. The complaint will be reviewed and the legal practitioner cited in the complaint will be provided with a copy of the complaint/details of the complaint and requested to respond to the allegations.
  4. Once in receipt of the cited legal practitioner’s response, the Office of the Chief Justice will review the contents of the complaint and the response and attempt to resolve the complaint.
  5. If in the view of the Chief Justice the complaint cannot be resolved, the Chief Justice may, in terms of section 18 of the LPA, refer the complaint to the Disciplinary Committee for Legal Practitioners for further investigation and action.
  6. Once referred, the Committee will take over the handling of the complaint.

The Complaints Form can be downloaded here: complaint-form

Please note: This process is independent of the Registrar of the Supreme Court’s power in terms of section 6(A) to review and ensure compliance with conditions attached to Legal Practitioners’ Licenses.