South Australian Current Acts

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LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT 1981 - SECT 82

82—Inquiries

        (1)         Subject to this section, a charge may be laid under this section alleging unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct

            (a)         on the part of any legal practitioner; or

            (b)         on the part of any former legal practitioner who was at the time of the alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct a legal practitioner.

        (1a)         A charge may not be laid before the Tribunal relating to conduct by a legal practitioner or former legal practitioner if the Commissioner has exercised a power under section 77J in relation to the conduct.

        (2)         A charge may be laid under this section by—

            (a)         the Attorney-General; or

            (b)         the Commissioner; or

            (c)         the Society; or

            (d)         a person claiming to be aggrieved by reason of the alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

        (2a)         A charge relating to conduct by a legal practitioner must be laid before the Tribunal within 3 years of the conduct unless—

            (a)         the charge is laid by the Attorney-General; or

            (b)         the Tribunal allows an extension of time.

        (2c)         A charge may be laid before the Tribunal despite the fact that criminal proceedings have been or are to be commenced in relation to a matter to which the charge relates.

        (3)         A charge laid under this section must be in the form prescribed by rules under this Division.

        (4)         Where a charge has been laid under this section, the Tribunal must, subject to subsection (5), inquire into the conduct of the legal practitioner or former legal practitioner to whom the charge relates.

        (5)         The Tribunal may summarily dismiss any charge that it considers frivolous or vexatious and may, for the purpose of dealing with such a charge, consist of 1 member.

        (6)         If after conducting an inquiry under this section the Tribunal is satisfied—

            (a)         that a legal practitioner is guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct it may exercise any one or more of the following powers:

                  (i)         it may reprimand the legal practitioner;

            (ib)         it may make orders with respect to the examination of the legal practitioner's files and records by a person approved by the Tribunal (at the expense of the legal practitioner) at the intervals, and for the period, specified in the order;

                  (ii)         it may order the legal practitioner to pay a fine not exceeding—

                        (A)         $50 000; or

                        (B)         if the Tribunal is constituted of 1 member in accordance with section 80(1a)(a)—$10 000;

                  (iii)         it may make an order imposing conditions on the legal practitioner's practising certificate (whether a practising certificate under this Act or an interstate practising certificate)—

                        (A)         relating to the practitioner's legal practice (provided that, in the case of an order made without the consent of the practitioner, such conditions must not operate for a period exceeding 12 months); or

                        (B)         requiring that the legal practitioner, within a specified time, complete further education or training, or receive counselling, of a specified type;

                  (iv)         it may make an order suspending the legal practitioner's practising certificate (whether a practising certificate under this Act or an interstate practising certificate) until the end of the period specified in the order, not exceeding—

                        (A)         12 months; or

                        (B)         if the Tribunal is constituted of 1 member in accordance with section 80(1a)(a)—3 months;

                  (v)         it may, unless constituted of 1 member in accordance with section 80(1a)(a), recommend that disciplinary proceedings be commenced against the legal practitioner in the Supreme Court; or

            (b)         that a former legal practitioner was, while he or she remained a legal practitioner, guilty of professional misconduct—it may order the former legal practitioner to pay a fine not exceeding—

                  (i)         $50 000; or

                  (ii)         if the Tribunal is constituted of 1 member in accordance with section 80(1a)(a)—$10 000; or

            (c)         that a former legal practitioner was, while he or she remained a legal practitioner, guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct—it may order the former legal practitioner to pay a fine not exceeding—

                  (i)         $25 000; or

                  (ii)         if the Tribunal is constituted of 1 member in accordance with section 80(1a)(a)—$5 000.

        (6b)         A condition imposed on a practising certificate or interstate practising certificate pursuant to an order under this section may be varied or revoked at any time on application by the legal practitioner.

        (7)         After completing an inquiry under this section, the Tribunal must transmit the evidence taken by the Tribunal on the inquiry together with a memorandum of its findings to the Attorney-General, the Society and the Commissioner.

        (8)         If, after conducting an inquiry into a charge alleging professional misconduct by a person who is a legal practitioner or former legal practitioner, the Tribunal

            (a)         is not satisfied that the person is guilty of professional misconduct; but

            (b)         is satisfied that the person is guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct,

the Tribunal must find the person not guilty of professional misconduct, but may find the person guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.



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