New Zealand Law Society - Grounds for complaint

Grounds for complaint

While there are some matters the Lawyers Complaints Service can't handle, grounds for a complaint can include the following:

  • A lawyer’s conduct – if, for example, you think they have a conflict of interest or have treated you unfairly.
  • Poor service – if, for example, a lawyer has:
    • not done what they said they would do;
    • involved you in unreasonable delays;
    • given you wrong or incomplete information;
    • failed to reply to phone calls and letters;
    • not kept you informed about the work they are doing for you.
  • Fees – if you consider a lawyer’s bill of costs is too high, you can ask the Complaints Service to inquire into it. However, the Service will normally only do this when the bill is for more than $2,000 (GST exclusive) and not more than 2 years old. It may look at other bills in special circumstances.
  • Failure to comply with orders – you may also make a complaint if a lawyer fails to comply with any order or final determination made under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 by a Lawyers Standards Committee or the Legal Complaints Review Officer.

Time limit on complaints

The Lawyers Complaints Service may only inquire into complaints about conduct that occurred before 1 August 2008 if it has not already been investigated under the Law Practitioners Act 1982. The Service cannot inquire into conduct that occurred before 1 August 2002.

What the Lawyers Complaints Service can't do

  • Give you legal advice or a second opinion on legal advice you have received.
  • Inquire into the outcome of or assist with court cases.
  • Consider complaints about judges. These are handled by the Judicial Conduct Commissioner (
  • Handle claims on the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund. This fund is available to help compensate people who have lost money or property as a result of theft by a lawyer, law firm or one of their employees or agents.