Queensland Law Society

Can I threaten to report another party’s solicitor to the QLS or LSC if they won't reply?

The Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 ('ASCR'):

32. Unfounded allegations

32.1 A solicitor must not make an allegation against another Australian legal practitioner of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct unless the allegation is made bona fide and the solicitor believes on reasonable grounds that available material by which the allegation could be supported provides a proper basis for it.

Complaints about a solicitor’s conduct can only be made to the Legal Services Commission (‘LSC’).

More generally, this question raises similar issues to the article 'In a civil dispute, can I threaten to report the other party to the police if they don’t comply with my client’s demands?' Rule 34.1.2 of the ASCR is relevant.

34. Dealing with other persons

34.1 A solicitor must not in any action or communication associated with representing a client:

34.1.1 make any statement which grossly exceeds the legitimate assertion of the rights or entitlements of the solicitor’s client, and which misleads or intimidates the other person;
34.1.2 threaten the institution of criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the other person if a civil liability to the solicitor’s client is not satisfied; or
34.1.3 use tactics that go beyond legitimate advocacy and which are primarily designed to embarrass or frustrate another person.

34.2 In the conduct or promotion of a solicitor’s practice, the solicitor must not seek instructions for the provision of legal services in a manner likely to oppress or harass a person who, by reason of some recent trauma or injury, or other circumstances, is, or might reasonably be expected to be, at a significant disadvantage in dealing with the solicitor at the time when the instructions are sought.

Take care not to threaten the institution of disciplinary proceedings. You should be sure that the circumstances are such as to warrant a complaint, and you might usefully confirm this with colleagues or a QLS Senior Counsellor

You should also appreciate that there may be no action the LSC can take. The other solicitor may be acting on instructions, or there may be some other reason for this lack of response. Such matters may be confidential or privileged and the other solicitor may not be able or willing to provide details, even to the LSC. 

The solution may be to write direct to the other party about the lack of reply from their solicitor. You may do this provided that you follow a certain process – see Rule 33.1.4:

33.Communication with another solicitor’s client

33.1 A solicitor must not deal directly with the client or clients of another practitioner unless:

...

33.1.4 there is notice of the solicitor’s intention to communicate with the other party or parties, but the other practitioner has failed, after a reasonable time, to reply and there is a reasonable basis for proceeding with contact.