This section describes how to file a complaint with the Law Society of New Brunswick and summarizes the complaints process we follow, which is set out in Part 10 Discipline and Competence of the Law Society Act, 1996. The Registrar of Complaints is the person responsible for fulfilling this part of our mandate.
New Brunswick JurisdictionOpen
The Law Society of New Brunswick is authorized to regulate lawyers practising in New Brunswick. The Registrar of Complaints is authorized to investigate lawyers’ professional conduct.
If you feel a lawyer practising in New Brunswick has conducted himself or herself improperly, you may file a complaint in writing. The Law Society will investigate complaints about a range of professional conduct issues. All complaints are under the jurisdiction of our Code of Professional Conduct, as well as our Act and Rules.Close
Other Law SocietiesOpen
If you wish to file a complaint against a lawyer practising in one of the other provinces or territories, you must contact that other law society about their procedures. A list of all law societies in Canada is available on our Links page.Close
Prepare the ComplaintOpen
There are two ways to file a complaint: write a letter naming the lawyer and describing your complaint OR complete our Complaint Form and return it to us. If you want to use the form, but there is not enough room, you may attach a letter or additional sheets of paper. Also with respect to the form, please answer as much as you are able to, but some questions may not apply to you.
We cannot accept complaints by telephone. According to the Law Society Act, 1996, complaints must be filed in writing and we are not permitted to make exceptions.
You may attach copies of any documents you feel are important in order to clearly explain or support your complaint. We do not promise to return original documents. Please note: we cannot help you write your complaint, nor can we advise you as to what you should write or include. You do not need to quote the provisions or relevant parts of legislation that you feel the lawyer breached.
The complaint should cover “the five W’s”: who, what, where, when and why?
- Who is the lawyer? – You must name the lawyer. We do not accept complaints against law firms.
- What did he/she do or fail to do?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen? – There is no time limit for filing a complaint.
- Why do you think it happened?
Make sure to include your full name and contact information, including your full mailing address and telephone numbers. If you move or if your telephone numbers change, please be sure to contact us again with your new information.Close
Send the ComplaintOpen
Send your complaint letter or completed form along with copies of any relevant documents to the attention of the the Registrar of Complaints by regular mail, by fax, or by email. Be sure to sign your complaint. If you send an unsigned complaint by email, please send a signed copy by regular mail as well.
As soon as we receive your complaint, we will write to you by regular mail to acknowledge receipt.Close
The Lawyer's ResponseOpen
Once the lawyer’s response is received, it will be evaluated by the Registrar of Complaints. In most cases, a copy will be sent to you although it is possible that some solicitor-client privileged information will not be forwarded to you. Along with the lawyer’s response, you will be given an opportunity to make additional comments. At this point, you may be satisfied with the lawyer’s response.Close
Action Taken by the RegistrarOpen
If the complaint cannot be resolved, the Registrar of Complaints will consider all documentary material obtained and determine if further investigation is necessary and then determine if the complaint has merit. Both you and the lawyer will receive a copy of the written decision. In deciding a complaint, the Registrar has numerous options, some of which are:
- The Registrar may dismiss the complaint if, in the opinion of the Registrar, it is without merit.
- The Registrar may issue a caution or a warning if, in the opinion of the Registrar, the complaint has merit but does not justify disciplinary action.
- The Registrar may refer the complaint to the Competence Committee, the Complaints Committee or the Discipline Committee. In some cases, further investigation or a hearing will be conducted. A final decision will then be made by whichever committee received the referral.
If a complaint is referred to the Complaints Committee, the committee may be of the opinion that no disciplinary action is warranted. If this is the case, the Complaints Committee like the Registrar of Complaints can reject a complaint or issue a caution/warning to the lawyer. In some cases, complaints require further investigation. These complaints will be referred back to the Registrar, or a panel of the Complaints Committee will conduct an interview of you and the lawyer.
The Complaints Committee also has options that are not available to the Registrar, such as requesting a financial audit or quality review of the lawyer’s practice. Other options available to the Complaints Committee through an informal process (i.e. without a hearing) are to settle the complaint, reprimand the lawyer, fine the lawyer, order the lawyer to pay costs, or impose conditions on the lawyer’s practice.
Any disciplinary action above a caution or warning constitutes a discipline history for the lawyer, and this history cannot be expunged or removed.Close
The Discipline CommitteeOpen
When a complaint is forwarded to the Discipline Committee, the Discipline Committee will conduct a formal hearing, and the hearing will be open to the public. A Notice of Complaint will be prepared, setting out the allegations against the lawyer. This notice will be published on the Discipline Cases page of this website, along with any reply filed by the lawyer. Once a date for the hearing has been set, a Notice of Hearing will be posted. Once the hearing has concluded, the Discipline Committee’s decision will also be published on the same page.Close
The Law Society cannot reimburse you for a lawyer’s professional misconduct.
When a lawyer has been found guilty of dishonesty and caused his or her client(s) to suffer a financial loss, Council of the Law Society approves a payment from the Compensation Fund. These applications are considered by the Compensation Fund Committee after the Discipline Committee hearing has taken place. More information about our Compensation Fund is available on this website. There is also an application form you can download.Close
If You Still Have QuestionsOpen