Making a Complaint
Our job is to receive and investigate complaints about barristers and solicitors. We handle three types of complaints – about inadequate legal services, excessive fees and misconduct. We will be impartial when we consider any complaint. Our complaints service is free.
Complaints to the LSRA must be made in writing. You can:
- Write us a letter
- Download and fill in a Complaint Form – see below
- Contact us by telephone to request a Complaint Form to be posted or emailed to you
Send your completed Complaint Form or correspondence to the Complaints and Resolutions Unit at [email protected]
Your use of electronic forms and emails will greatly assist us with handling your complaints at this time.
Our Postal Address
Complaints and Resolutions Unit
Legal Services Regulatory Authority
P.O. Box 12906
You may also contact us by telephone and request a Complaint Form on 01-8592911.
Complaints and Resolutions Unit
Please note that our complaints telephone service is operating with limited hours (10am to 12:30pm) and there is no facility to leave a voice message.
Complaints Phone Line: 01-8592911
Opening Hours: 10a.m. to 12.30p.m.
Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays)
Before filling in a Complaint Form please read our Information Guide below.
This sets out what you can and cannot complain about as well as information about how we will handle your complaint.
It is important that you note that a full copy of your written complaint will be provided to the legal practitioner (and also the Law Society of Ireland if you complaint is about a solicitor).
The Complaint Form is available in three formats:
1. A fillable form which you can download to a computer and fill in online. When opening the form in MS Word, click Enable Editing.
2. A PDF document which you can print off and fill in by hand.
3. A simplified version of the form for use on mobile or progammes where formatting is limited.
What can I complain about?
• If you are a client of a practitioner you may complain about inadequate service and/or excessive costs. Time limits apply to complaints about these two categories.
• Anyone can complain about alleged misconduct on the part of a legal practitioner and no time limit applies in such cases.
Who can make a complaint about a legal practitioner?
- If you are a client of a legal practitioner (which includes solicitors or barristers) you can make a complaint yourself; or someone else can make a complaint on your behalf.
- Any person may make a complaint about alleged misconduct on the part of a legal practitioner
If someone wishes to make a complaint on behalf of another person, the LSRA will generally require the written consent of the person affected. For further information on how the LSRA handles complaints made on behalf of others, please download and read our Consent Policy and Consent Form.
What is meant by inadequate standard of service?
This means a level of service which was inadequate in any material respect and was not of a quality that could reasonably be expected.
What is meant by excessive costs?
This means that an amount of costs sought by the legal practitioner in respect of legal services provided by the legal practitioner was or is excessive.
What is meant by misconduct?
This can be a range of conduct from allegations of fraud or dishonesty to criminal activity to a breach of the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015. A full list of the acts or omissions that may be considered as misconduct can be found at section 50 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015.
Is there a time limit for making a complaint?
Complaints which relate to alleged inadequate standard of service or excessive costs (or both) have a time limit of three years.
There is no time limit for making a complaint of alleged misconduct.
Can the LSRA look into a complaint about something that happened outside Ireland?
Yes in certain circumstances the LSRA can accept and investigate a complaint against a legal practitioner, relating to activity which constitutes a crime or offence outside the State which, if it occurred within the State, would be an arrestable offence.
Can a complaint relate to conduct outside the course of a legal practitioners profession?
Yes – if the complaint relates to behaviour of a legal practitioner which is likely to bring his/her profession into disrepute or justify a finding that the legal practitioner is not a fit and proper person to engage in the provision of legal services.
Do I need legal representation to make a complaint?
No, you can make the complaint yourself without any legal assistance. If you decide you wish to obtain legal advice that decision will be yours and any costs associated with it must be met by you.
Will my complaint be dealt with in a confidential manner?
As part of the investigation of your complaint we are obliged to notify the legal practitioner, provide them with a full copy of the complaint and seek his/her response to the complaint. If the complaint relates to a solicitor we must also notify the Law Society of Ireland and provide them with a copy of the complaint.
What information do I need to give the LSRA when I am making my complaint?
Complaints about Inadequate Service Standards
If your complaint relates to inadequate service, we will ask you what service you were expecting to receive, and why you think the service you received was inadequate.
Complaints about Excessive Costs
If your complaint relates to excessive costs, we will ask you to provide us with a copy of the letter you received from your legal practitioner setting out the likely costs for the service. It would also be useful if you could provide a copy of any bills you received from the legal practitioner.
Complaints About Misconduct
If your complaint relates to misconduct, we will ask you to describe the behaviour you are alleging and we will decide whether it is a complaint that can be investigated under the Act.
We will need to know if you have made the same complaint before to the Law Society of Ireland, the Honorable Society of King’s Inns or the Bar Council and, if so, what happened. If the complaint has been the subject of criminal or civil proceedings or is currently the subject of ongoing proceedings you must provide full details of these.
I have decided to make a complaint, what do I do next?
When you have completed our Complaint Form, please email the form (and scan any supporting documentation) to us at email: [email protected]
Or, if you do not have access to email, please post your form and supporting documents to us at:
Complaints and Resolutions
Legal Services Regulatory Authority
P.O. Box 12906
It is important that you are aware that a complaint cannot be investigated by the LSRA if you previously made the same complaint to the Law Society of Ireland, the Bar Council or King’s Inns and it was determined by one of those bodies, even if you were unhappy with the outcome of that complaint.
What happens once I make my complaint?
Once we are satisfied that your complaint is one of inadequate service, excessive costs or misconduct, we will notify the legal practitioner (and the Law Society of Ireland if appropriate).
The legal practitioner will be asked to respond to the complaint and set out his/her response to the complaint.
Once we receive a response from the legal practitioner we will assess all the information available to us by conducting a preliminary review and decide if the complaint is admissible or not.
We may also write to you again if there is a need to ask you for additional information.
Sometimes, the legal practitioner may try to resolve a complaint as soon as he/she receives it and before the LSRA have determined the complaint to be admissible.
How long will the initial complaint process take?
As no two complaints are the same, it is very difficult to estimate how long your complaint may take. However, we are committed to providing an efficient and effective service and will be working hard to have the matter dealt with as quickly as possible.
What does admissible mean?
Admissible means that the complaint meets the criteria set out in the Legal Services Regulatory Act, 2015 – in other words – it is one of inadequate service/excessive costs or misconduct, is not frivolous or vexatious or without substance or foundation and has been made within the required time limits.
What happens if my complaint is not admissible?
We will notify you and the legal practitioner (and the Law Society of Ireland if applicable) that the complaint has been determined to be inadmissible. We will explain the reasons why we have found the complaint to be inadmissible. Once a complaint has been found to be inadmissible the LSRA can take no further action in relation to the complaint.
What happens if my complaint is admissible?
Depending on the type of complaint you have made, there are a couple of avenues the complaint may take. We are required under the legislation to offer you the option to resolve a complaint of inadequate service or excessive costs (or both) informally through Informal Resolution (see point 3.1).
Complaints which are considered by the LSRA to fit the criteria for misconduct are investigated by a Complaints Committee.
What is Informal Resolution?
This is a mechanism used by people to resolve their complaint informally.
The informal resolution process is provided by trained mediators and aims to facilitate both parties arriving at an agreed solution rather than having a solution imposed on them.
If the complaint reaches the admissibility point in the complaints process, the LSRA will ask you and the legal practitioner to engage in Informal Resolution to try to resolve two specific types of complaint (1) inadequate service or (2) excessive costs.
Some complaints which fall into the category of misconduct and relate to alleged inadequate service of a more significant level can also be informally resolved.
It is not permissible under the legislation for complaints of misconduct to be referred for Informal Resolution. This type of complaint is formally investigated by a Complaints Committee.
How does Informal Resolution work?
Informal Resolution is a form of mediation conducted by staff of the LSRA, usually by telephone. There is no charge for the mediation conducted by LSRA staff.
You can also choose to enter mediation conducted by a third party. However, charges will apply and they must be borne equally by you and the legal practitioner unless an agreement is reached between you regarding costs.
Informal Resolution is a confidential process and if you engage in it, but cannot resolve the complaint, any information you obtain through the process must remain confidential to the parties involved in the resolution process. This means that if the complaint goes on to a full investigation, those making the determination of your complaint will not know or be given any answers or statements made in the Informal Resolution process.
It is a voluntary process. The LSRA will offer it to you and the legal practitioner and we hope that you will take the opportunity to resolve your complaint at an early stage.
The LSRA’s Guidelines set out in detail the process which will be implemented once a complaint has been determined to be admissible and considered suitable for informal resolution through mediation. You can download the guidelines (PDF) here: LSRA guidelines for the resolution of complaints by mediation or informal means
The LSRA is committed to adhering to high professional standards in relation to how our informal resolution process is conducted.
You can find out more here (PDF): LSRA Internal Standard Operating Procedures for the informal resolution of complaints
Do I have to resolve my complaint informally?
No you don’t. You and the legal practitioner concerned will be invited to resolve the matter by informal means- it is open to you and the legal practitioner concerned to accept the LSRA’s offer of informal resolution, or reject it. We would encourage you however to take the opportunity to try to resolve it at an early stage as informal resolution is considered to be an appropriate way of dealing with complaints of this nature, the investigation process can sometimes be lengthy and there are no guarantees that the outcome of the investigation will be to your satisfaction.
What happens if I reject the offer to resolve my complaint informally?
If you choose to reject the LSRA’s invitation, the LSRA will write to you and the legal practitioner asking for a statement setting out your position in respect of the complaint. The LSRA will then make a determination regarding the complaint.
If I accept the invitation to resolve my complaint informally, what happens next?
The LSRA will conduct mediation between you and the legal practitioner. We will try to help you and the practitioner find a solution which is acceptable to both of you.
Please be aware that agreement by the legal practitioner concerned to enter into Informal Resolution in an attempt to resolve the complaint, does not mean that they are making an admission of liability with respect to your complaint.
Can I withdraw my consent to the informal resolution process?
Yes you can. This is a voluntary process and if you or the legal practitioner wish to withdraw your consent to the informal resolution process, you may do so by writing to the LSRA advising us of this. Likewise, the mediator may decide that progress is not being made and terminate the mediation if the matter is unlikely to be resolved.
What happens if a resolution isn’t reached in time?
If the LSRA considers that you and the legal practitioner concerned are unlikely to reach an agreement in the matter, the LSRA will notify you that it intends to make a determination in the matter. Where this occurs, a period of 30 days will pass before the LSRA will proceed to determine the matter.
What happens then?
The LSRA will then write to you and the legal practitioner concerned and ask you for a statement setting out your position in relation to the complaint. The LSRA will then make a determination regarding the complaint.
What does determine my complaint mean?
It means that the LSRA will decide whether there is evidence of inadequate service or excessive costs (or both) on the part of the practitioner. If your complaint is upheld, the LSRA will decide what direction should be made to the legal practitioner. Both you and the legal practitioner will be notified of the determination made and given an opportunity to appeal that decision to a Review Committee.
If your complaint related to misconduct it will be referred to a Complaints Committee for investigation.
What can the LSRA direct the legal practitioner to do?
There are a wide range of directions open to the LSRA if it finds that the matter complained of was of an inadequate standard of service or the costs were excessive. This information can be found on the complaints section of our website (www.lsra.ie).
You will be provided with a copy of the direction made and given an opportunity to consider it and decide whether or not to appeal the decision.
If I am dissatisfied with the outcome, what can I do?
Both you and the legal practitioner are entitled to seek a review of the determination made by the LSRA. You can do this by writing to the Authority within 30 days of the date of notification of the determination requesting a review of the direction made, or, of the failure to make a direction.
Please note that the right of review by a Review Committee is open to both you and the legal practitioner concerned. If a bill of costs has been adjudicated and a review is sought by either you, or the legal practitioner concerned any direction made by the LSRA will cease to have effect pending completion of the review.
Your legal rights
With respect to a complaint relating to an inadequate standard of service or excessive costs, any decision(s) made by the LSRA will not interfere with, or prohibit you exercising your legal rights.
What does the Review Committee do?
The Review Committee reviews determinations and directions made by the LSRA which relate to complaints of inadequate standard of service or excessive costs (or both).
Who sits on the Review Committee?
The Review Committee is made up of three people:
• 2 lay people and
• 1 solicitor or barrister
If the complaint relates to a barrister, then a barrister will sit on the Review Committee. Similarly, if the complaint relates to a solicitor, then a solicitor will sit on the Review Committee.
What happens if I ask for a determination to be reviewed?
If you (or the legal practitioner) request a review, the secretary to the Review Committee will write to both of you asking you to provide a statement in writing explaining why you feel that the determination reached by the LSRA was incorrect or unjust.
What will the Review Committee do?
The Review Committee will review all the documentation available to it (none of which will relate to attempts made to resolve the complaint informally) and make one of the following decisions:
• Confirm the determination of the LSRA;
• Send the complaint back to the LSRA to be dealt with again;
• Issue one or more direction to the legal practitioner concerned which the LSRA is authorised to issue.
What happens if I accept the Review Committee determination?
If you (and/or the legal practitioner concerned) accept the determination of the Review Committee, it shall become absolutely binding on you (and the legal practitioner concerned) 21 days after the decision was reached.
What if I am dissatisfied with the decision of the Review Committee?
If you (or the legal practitioner concerned) are dissatisfied with a decision of a Review Committee, you may apply to the High Court for an Order directing the Review Committee to rescind or vary the determination as the Court considers appropriate.
How long do I have to apply to the High Court?
You must apply to the High Court within 21 days of being notified of the Review Committee decision.
What happens if I do not make an application to appeal within the 21-day period?
The determination of the Review Committee shall become absolutely binding on you (and the legal practitioner concerned) 21 days after the decision was reached.
What happens if the legal practitioner doesn’t comply with the Review Committee determination?
If a solicitor or barrister concerned, without a reasonable excuse, refuses, neglects or otherwise fails to comply with the determination of the Review Committee, this may be a misconduct issue and/or this may amount to an offence which can be prosecuted in the District Court.
Who will assess my complaint if it relates to misconduct?
Admissible complaints relating to misconduct are referred to a Complaints Committee for investigation. Complaints of misconduct are not suitable for informal resolution.
What is a Complaints Committee
The Complaints Committee is made up of a total of 27 members who will sit in groups of three or five to investigate each individual complaint. These smaller committees are called Divisional Committees. Lay people, solicitors or barristers are appointed as members of each Divisional Committee as appropriate. Every committee will have a lay majority and a lay chairperson.
How does a Divisional Committee conduct its work?
A Divisional Committee will consider and investigate complaints relating to misconduct. The Divisional Committee will receive a copy of your complaint and any documents relating to the complaint that have been submitted by you and the practitioner together with a summary of the complaint.
The Divisional Committee will then write to the legal practitioner concerned, provide him/her with a copy of your complaint together with a copy of any documents relating to it and request a response. If the legal practitioner agrees that the complaint against him/her is correct he/she will have the opportunity to accept a sanction rather than have the complaint undergo a full investigation.
If the legal practitioner is not in agreement to a direction by the Divisional Committee, it will provide you a copy of the legal practitioners’ response and invite you to provide your views on it.
If the Divisional Committee is not satisfied with the legal practitioners’ response, or if there is no response by the legal practitioner, the Divisional Committee will proceed to investigate your complaint as it considers appropriate.
If the legal practitioner is willing to accept wrong doing and any sanction which may be imposed, the Divisional Committee will make a determination and direction regarding the complaint. You and the legal practitioner will be notified of the decision of the Committee.
Are there any requirements on me?
Yes. The Divisional Committee may send you a notice in writing, and may request:
• That you verify anything contained in your complaint;
• That you provide information or documents relating to the complaint;
• Require that information be verified by way of an affidavit or otherwise.
You are required to comply with any request made of you. The Divisional Committee may also require you and the legal practitioner to appear before it, as part of the investigation.
Are there any requirements on the legal practitioner concerned?
Yes. The Divisional Committee may send the legal practitioner a notice in writing and may request:
• That they verify anything contained in their response to your complaint;
• That they provide information or documents relating to your complaint;
• That they verify information provided by way of an affidavit.
The legal practitioner concerned is required to comply with any notice issued to them.
Who will represent me at the Committee hearing?
You may represent yourself or you may be represented by a person of your choice for the purpose of appearing before the Committee.
Please be aware however that you will be personally liable for the costs of such representation.
Can I withdraw my complaint during the Divisional Committee hearing?
Yes you can.
What happens then?
The Committee may decide to accept your withdrawal. However, if the Committee are of the opinion that an investigation should proceed, it can proceed as if you had not withdrawn the complaint. The Committee will notify you and the legal practitioner concerned, of its decision.
Can the Divisional Committee decide to not issue a direction to the legal practitioner?
Yes it can. If the Committee determines that the matter you complained of is not one which warrants a sanction or direction, the Committee will advise you and the legal practitioner concerned in writing, and give reasons for its decision.
What power does the Divisional Committee have to impose penalties?
There are a range of penalties available to the Committee (This information can be found on our website www.lsra.ie.) or it may refer more serious cases to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. You will be notified of the decision of the Committee and the sanctions which have been imposed.
The Divisional Committee may apply a range of sanctions which may include directing the legal practitioner to arrange for the performance or completion of the legal service, to waive all or part of the fees sought, to refund some or all of the fees paid to the legal practitioner, direct a legal practitioner to pay a sum not exceeding €5,000 as compensation, or impose a specific restriction or condition on the practising certificate of the legal practitioner.
Are there complaints that the Divisional Committee consider too serious for it to investigate?
Yes. This is usually reserved for very serious types of misconduct complaint.
Serious allegations, which do not involve criminality, can be referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT) if the Divisional Committee considers that it is more appropriate.
Allegations of a criminal nature made against a legal practitioner may be referred to the Garda Síochána for investigation.
Can I appeal the determination of the Complaints Committee?
Only the practitioner or the LSRA can appeal the determination of the Complaints Committee. There is no appeal mechanism available for complainants.
What is the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal?
The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT) is made up of 33 members appointed by the President of the High Court, on the nomination of the Minister for Justice.
The Tribunal has a majority of lay persons appointed to it.
Its role is to conduct tribunals of inquiry into allegations of misbehaviour of misconduct made against legal practitioners.
Who can refer matters to the Tribunal?
The Complaints Committee may refer a matter to the Tribunal for investigation. A person appointed by the LSRA will present the evidence to the Tribunal.
How does it conduct its inquiry?
The Tribunal has the power to require witnesses to attend before it, and can compel documents be produced to it.
Are hearings in private?
The inquiry is conducted by way of an oral hearing which is normally held in public, unless the Tribunal is satisfied that it should be held in private.
What happens then?
Both the legal practitioner concerned and the LSRA may be represented by a legal practitioner.
Any witnesses called before the Tribunal are required to give their evidence on oath or on affirmation.
What powers does it have?
The legislation allows the LPDT to call witnesses, hear evidence and make a determination in a case. It can also prosecute someone in Court for failing to appear before it, refusing to produce documents or giving false information which hinders or obstructs the Tribunal.
What sanctions can it impose?
The Tribunal has a wide range of sanctions available to it under the legislation. This information can be found on our website www.lsra.ie. A range of sanctions available might include: admonishment, censure, waive all or part of any costs, refund all or any part of costs paid, issue a direction that a legal practitioner pay a sum not exceeding €15,000 or referral to the High Court, as appropriate.
Can the determination be appealed to the High Court?
Who can appeal?
• The LSRA can appeal a decision of the LPDT.
• The legal practitioner concerned can appeal a decision of the LPDT.
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