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What if I have concerns with the actions or conduct of a lawyer?


What if I have concerns with the actions or conduct of a lawyer?

Application for investigation

You have hired a lawyer and you have good reason to believe that he has committed a breach of ethics? Before anything else, contact your lawyer to ask for an explanation. If the explanations he gives are unsatisfactory, or if you can not reach your lawyer, the Syndic of the Barreau du Québec may help you.

The Barreau du Québec's primary mandate is to protect the public. Thus, it must ensure the discipline of the legal profession, respect of ethics and the proficiency of its members and of the people who want to join its ranks.

Although the vast majority of lawyers provide professional services of quality, it is possible that a lawyer has been incompetent to you, that he has violated a law or a professional regulation. You then have an appeal: you can contact the Syndic's Office of the Barreau du Québec, which, depending on the case, will investigate and act before the Disciplinary Board.


When someone in the public complains about the conduct of a lawyer at the Syndic's Office, and wishes that the Syndic intervenes, it is called "making a request to investigate".

Why not call it "complaint?"

Just because it is the Syndic's Office who complains and makes representations to the Disciplinary Board. Before you complain, the Syndic's Office may investigate and see if there is really matters to complain. The first step that opens the process is thus called: application for investigation.


To file a request for investigation regarding the professional practice of a lawyer, you must
write to the Syndic's Office of the Barreau du Québec stating:

  • reasons for your complaint
  • the name and full mailing address (number, street, city, postal code) of the lawyer or lawyers referred
  • the date on which the facts occurred
  • your address and phone numbers (work and at home) your fax number and email address, if you have one

It is recommended to attach to your letter a copy of relevant documents in your possession.

You must send your correspondence to the following address, by mail, fax or email:

Bureau du syndic
445, boul. Saint-Laurent
Montréal Qc
H2Y 3T8

Fax :
514 954-3478

Mail :

Investigation Process

If the Syndic's Office estimate that the facts in the investigation are such that public safety could be compromised if the lawyer continues to practice his profession, he then submits a complaint to the Disciplinary Board of the Barreau du Québec.

The Disciplinary Board is composed of three persons: the president - a lawyer appointed by the Québec government after consulting the Barreau - and two other lawyers appointed by the Barreau. It is a tribunal, independent of the Barreau du Québec in performing its functions. A charge so made by the Syndic's Office incur no cost to the applicant for investigation.

The decision of the Syndic's Office to complain or not will be communicated to you in writing within a period that can vary depending on the complexity and number of ongoing investigations. In the case the Syndic's Office decides not to lodge a complaint, he must explain in writing the reasons for its decision.


A request for investigation to the Syndic's Office of the Barreau du Québec is not used to obtain financial compensation for damages caused by an error of your lawyer. To do this, you should instead be directed to the Liability Insurance Fund of the Barreau du Québec, which usually solves this kind of files without having to initiate a prosecution. You should also know that any misconduct by a lawyer and recognized by a civil trial does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Code of Conduct for Lawyers.


For questions or additional information regarding the request for investigation:



Review of a decision of the Syndic's Office

When someone asks the Syndic's Office to investigate the conduct of a lawyer but that the syndic arrives at the conclusion that there is no need to file a disciplinary complaint, the person who requested the inquiry may request a review of the syndic's decision to the Comité de révision.

A person who wants to ask for a review of the syndic's decision may do so within thirty days of receipt of the syndic's decision.

Any request for review received more than thirty days after the applicant has received investigative syndic's decision will be declared inadmissible. The date of postmark will confirm the date of filing the application for review.

The Comité de révision's function is to ensure the quality of the investigation and the merits of the syndic's decision.

Le Comité de révision has 90 days to render its opinion. This period, however, is not one of discipline and it is possible that a review takes more time.

After its review, the Committee may:

  • Conclude that there is no reason to file a complaint with the Disciplinary Board.
    Because he accepts the decision of the syndic and thus confirms the reasons not to complain.
  • Suggest to the syndic to complete his inquiry.
    The Committee may, in fact, judge that further investigation may be necessary. The syndic or assistant syndic complete his inquiry and issue a new decision.
  • Suggest that the syndic refers the matter to the Professional Inspection Service.
    When the syndic refers a file to the Professional inspection Service, the latter meets the lawyer who is the subject of the investigation and tries to correct with him a situation or practice that could potentially cause a breach of ethics.
  • Decide that there is a reason for a complaint before the Disciplinary Board, and suggest the name of a person to act as syndic ad hoc who, after investigation, if necessary, will decide to complain or not.


For questions or additional information regarding the request for review:


The private complaint


A complaint which is directly submitted to the Disciplinary Board by an individual, without going through the Syndic’s Office, is called a private complaint. To directly submit a complaint, the complainant must contact the Barreau du Québec Registry Services and follow a separate procedure (see contact information below).

The Disciplinary Board hears any complaints filed before it under the Professional Code, regardless that it is given by a syndic or a person of the public (private complaint). The Disciplinary Board is composed of three persons: the president - appointed by the Government of Québec - and two members appointed by the Barreau.

The Disciplinary Board is an administrative tribunal that provides full guarantees of independence and impartiality necessary to a quality justice. No employee or officer of the Barreau du Québec can interfere in the decision process.

In this context, the Registry of discipline is the interface between the Disciplinary Board and the parties (the syndic or the private complainant, on the one hand and, on the other hand, the respondent lawyer). The Registry, through the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board, receives complaints, conducts all the necessary significations throughout the process (complaints, notices of hearings, subpœnas, decisions, etc..) and give all information required on the state of the record.

Anyone wishing to bring itself a complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Barreau du Québec must write to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board. A document entitled "Comment porter soi-même une plainte contre un avocat" is available on request at the Registry of discipline.

The complaint must be supported by an affidavit sworn and indicate where, when and how the fault occurred. It is important to note that in the case of a private complaint, as is the case of a complaint filed by the syndic, it is the person who complains that it is to demonstrate that the lawyer committed offense.

The Disciplinary Board may dismiss the complaint or report the lawyer guilty of the offense. If found guilty, after a rehearing, the lawyer is imposed sanctions such as reprimand, temporary or permanent radiation, limitation, suspension or revocation of licensure or a fine.

It is possible to appeal a decision of the Disciplinary Board to the Professions Tribunal. However, if the complaint was brought by the Syndic's Office, only he and the respondent lawyer may appeal. The Professions Tribunal follows its own rules.

For questions or additional information on the Disciplinary Board:


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Mise à jour : 09 June 2016