Filing a complaint
How to file 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 a lawyer committed professional misconduct? If so, you have a recourse: file a complaint with the Barreau.
First, if the person is your lawyer, we suggest you contact them first to 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.
Complaints to the Office of the syndic
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.
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:
- The reasons for your complaint
- The name and full mailing address (civic number, street, city, postal code) of the lawyer or lawyers in question
- The date on which the alleged misconduct occurred
- Your address and telephone numbers (work, home, cell phone)
- Your fax number and e-mail, if you have one
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
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.
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.
Review of the decision of the Office of the syndic
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:
- A sworn declaration supporting your allegations
- The place and date of the lawyer's misconduct and the reasons explaining how the misconduct occurred
Depending on the Disciplinary Council's decision, you may have to pay all or part of the complaint processing costs.