The Professional Conduct Department through the Professional Conduct Committee considers matters relating to the professional conduct of solicitors. As the statutory regulator of solicitors, the Law Society is obliged to investigate complaints received in relation to the professional conduct of solicitors in Northern Ireland.
Depending on the nature and review of the information provided, the Law Society may take different types of action in respect of a solicitor, which may include:-
• taking no action (where there are no grounds to do so);
• taking no action at present but keeping the information for further use in the exercise of its regulatory functions;
• initiating correspondence to obtain and evaluate further information which may result in taking no action;
• using the information to increase the supervision of a solicitor or their firm;
• using the information provided as part of a formal, potentially broader, investigation of a particular solicitor or firm;
• disciplinary action.
If the Law Society thinks it is appropriate to do so, it may disclose the information a complainant has provided to the solicitor, firm and to third parties.
Where a solicitor is asked to respond to the Law Society’s enquiries, they will be required to review their file in detail and substantiate their response with supporting documentation where appropriate. Upon receipt of the solicitor’s response it may be necessary for the Law Society to raise further enquiries with complainants, the solicitor or relevant third parties. Accordingly, while the Law Society aims to deal with the matter within 26 weeks this may not always be possible, and it may take longer to complete a full and effective investigation.
Depending on the outcome of the Law Society’s enquiries the matter may be referred to the Professional Conduct Committee for their consideration. Complainants will be advised of the outcome of any decision made by the Professional Conduct Committee as will the relevant solicitor(s). There may, however, be times where the Law Society can provide only limited information regarding the regulatory and/or any other action that is being taken.
The Society’s Privacy Notice, which is available below, explains how the Law Society will manage complainant’s personal data during the complaint investigation.
The Law Society cannot give complainants legal advice.
Accordingly, complainants should seek independent legal advice in respect of the issues raised and pursue any legal remedies available, or to make such other reports to agencies such as the PSNI, as may be appropriate, in accordance with the general law in Northern Ireland.