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Filing a complaint against a lawyer
Although the vast majority of lawyers offer high quality services, a lawyer may act incompetently when representing you or violate a law or professional rule. Do you have good reason to believe that the lawyer you hired committed professional misconduct? If so, you have a recourse: file a complaint with the Barreau.
First and foremost, it is important to contact your lawyer and ask for an explanation. If the explanation provided is unsatisfactory, or you are unable to reach your lawyer, you can file a complaint with the Barreau. If you have any doubts, contact the Barreau du Québec.
There are two ways to file a complaint against a lawyer:
Note Did you know that if you file a private complaint, you will be responsible for making representations in person before the Disciplinary Council and you will have to pay the costs, where applicable?
You can file a complaint with the Office of the syndic of the Barreau. The Office of the syndic is an independent service offered by the Barreau, which conducts an investigation and, if appropriate, files a formal complaint with the Disciplinary Council.
If, following your complaint, the Office of the syndic decides to open a file because it considers your complaint well founded, it is the Office of the syndic that will perform the investigation and gather the necessary evidence. If it considers the evidence to be sufficient, the Office of the syndic will file a complaint with the Disciplinary Council. It is the Office of the syndic that will make representations before the Disciplinary Council and will have to prove that the lawyer committed professional misconduct.
Note This process does not involve any costs on your part.
Filing your complaint with the Office of the syndic
To file your complaint with the Office of the syndic, you must write a letter containing the following information:
With your letter, you must include a copy of the relevant documents you have in your possession.
You must then send your complaint to the Office of the syndic
By mail, fax or e-mail:
Office of the syndic
445 Saint-Laurent Boulevard
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3T8
Decision of the Office of the syndic
The decision of the Office of the syndic whether or not to file a complaint will be communicated to you in writing within a time frame that will vary depending on the complexity of the file and the number of ongoing investigations. If the Office of the syndic decides not to file a complaint, it will provide you with written reasons for its decision.
Note A complaint to the Office of the syndic cannot be used to obtain financial compensation for harm caused by an error committed by your lawyer. To do so, you must, instead, contact the Professional Liability Insurance Fund of the Barreau du Québec, which can sometimes even settle this type of file without you having to initiate legal proceedings.
Do you want to apply for a review of the decision of the Office of the syndic? If so, you must apply to the Review Committee.
You can also choose to file your complaint against a lawyer directly with the Disciplinary Council, without going through the Office of the syndic. If you do so, the steps to be followed are different and it will be up to you to prove that the lawyer with whom you dealt committed the alleged misconduct. It will therefore be your responsibility to make sure you are in a position to prove what you are alleging. Following this demonstration, the Disciplinary Council will render a decision.
To file a complaint directly, you must address your complaint, in writing, to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Council of the Barreau du Québec.
A document about filing a private complaint, entitled LODGING A PRIVATE COMPLAINT BEFORE THE DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL OF THE BARREAU DU QUÉBEC is available upon request. To request a copy, contact the disciplinary registry of the Barreau.
Your complaint must contain the following elements:
Note Depending on the Disciplinary Council's decision, you may have to pay all or part of the complaint processing costs.