Disciplinary charges against a legal practitioner

Only the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner can bring disciplinary charges against a legal practitioner at VCAT.

Involvement of the complainant

The person who makes the original complaint to the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner is called the complainant. Normally the complainant is not a party to the VCAT proceeding. However the complainant has a right to be heard if we are likely to make an order in favour of the complainant.

Alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct

If someone makes a complaint to the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner about the professional conduct of a legal professional, the Commissioner usually investigates. The Commissioner may then apply to VCAT for a disciplinary order.

Rehearings under the Legal Profession Act 2004

Where a complaint was made on or after 12 December 2005 or the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner started an investigation after 12 December 2005, the legal professional may apply for a rehearing under section 4.4.21 of the Act.

Application for a rehearing

If the President or a Vice-President of VCAT did not preside at the hearing the legal practitioner has a right to a rehearing.

A panel of at least two VCAT members rehears the case.

You must apply to have the decision reheard using the Application to refer a matter form within 28 days of the date of the VCAT order made at the hearing. You do not have to pay a fee for a re-hearing.

At a rehearing, we follow similar steps to those at your initial hearing, adapted as required by the member.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear cases brought by the Legal Services Commissioner in relation to unprofessional conduct or misconduct by a legal practitioner.

  • Complete the order form and pay the required fee. Read more about how to apply to VCAT

  • When VCAT receives your application we assign a reference number and send the parties instructions on what to do next, including whether they need to attend a hearing, compulsory conference or mediation. Read more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • At VCAT we use compulsory conferences to allow the parties to work together towards a settlement. If you have been told to attend a compulsory conference or mediation, you need to prepare an opening statement. Use the opening statement to clearly state your case and what you hope to achieve. It can be a helpful starting point for discussion between the parties. You also need to think about the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the other party's case. See more about how to resolve a case by agreement.

  • A VCAT member decides the case based on witness statements, the evidence witnesses give at the hearing and the documents presented. The member also takes into account any submissions the parties make. As soon as you receive the notice of hearing from us, start preparing for the hearing. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • Arrive at VCAT with plenty of time so that you are not late for your hearing. When your case is called, move into the hearing room if you are not already there. Be ready to present your case. Read more about what to expect on hearing day.

  • The VCAT member may give their decision at the end of the hearing. If they need more time they normally give a decision within six weeks of the last hearing date. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.

Professional representation

If you want to be represented by a lawyer or some other person at the final hearing tell the member at the directions hearing.

The VCAT member who conducts the final hearing grants or refuses permission for you to be represented. In disciplinary cases in the Legal Practice List the Commissioner is usually represented by a lawyer and you are usually given permission to be represented by a lawyer.

Read more about professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number

VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you call or write to us or the other people involved in the case.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links or family violence support) please contact us as early as possible so we can support you. Learn more about customer support services at VCAT.