Complaints Process

The Tribunal is committed to processing, hearing and deciding the cases before it in a manner that is fair, just, and in the public interest. As such, we take complaints very seriously. If you have concerns about any of the Tribunal’s staff, adjudicators or services, please read the full protocol for making a complaint.

The Law Society Tribunal is an independent adjudicative tribunal within the Law Society of Ontario, consisting of staff and appointed adjudicators. Adjudicators include benchers and other lawyer, paralegal and lay appointees. The Tribunal is committed to processing, hearing and deciding the cases before it in a manner that is fair, just and in the public interest. Adjudicators must adhere to the Adjudicator Code of Conduct.

This complaint process is meant to address concerns about the Tribunal’s services. It is not a way for you to ask for a review of a decision nor can it raise issues of law or jurisdiction or re-litigate issues that were, or should have been, the subject of a hearing or appeal.

General Information
Tribunal Counsel acts as the first point of contact for making a complaint at the Tribunal. If the complaint is about Tribunal Counsel, then the Tribunal Chair is the first point of contact.

Formal complaints must be made in writing and cannot be made anonymously. If you require accommodation to file your written complaint, contact Tribunal Counsel. You must identify yourself and provide sufficient information for us to contact you. If we are unable to contact you, or you fail to respond to requests for additional information, we may close your complaint.

Complaints must be made within 60 days after the end of the adjudication process to which the complaint relates.

The complaint process is confidential. In the course of that process, a complaint may be shared with any adjudicator(s) or staff members named in the complaint and others as part of the investigation and resolution process.

How to Make a Complaint

Complaints about Staff or Services
If your complaint is about a staff person, you should first raise your concern directly with that person. Together, you may be able to resolve the problem without the need for a formal complaint.

If you do not wish to speak with the staff person, or if you are not satisfied with that person’s response, ask to speak to the individual’s supervisor. Again, the goal is to resolve your problem without the need for a formal complaint.

If your complaint relates to a Tribunal service, or if you have not been able to resolve your staff complaint informally, send your written complaint to the attention of the Tribunal Counsel. Explain the reasons for your complaint (who, what, when, where). Please also include any supporting documentation you may have. If your complaint is about a particular file, please provide the file number.

Tribunal Counsel will respond within 30 working days. If we are not able to complete the review of your complaint within this time period, we will still contact you to confirm that we have received the complaint and let you know what the next steps are.

Complaints about Tribunal Members
The adjudicators at the Tribunal are the Chair, two Vice-Chairs and Tribunal Members. Tribunal members are governed by the Adjudicator Code of Conduct passed by Convocation.

This process cannot be used to complain about a decision or order. If you feel a decision in your case is wrong and should be changed, you must follow the appeal procedures provided in the Rules of Practice and Procedure and the Law Society Act.

If your complaint involves the conduct of a Tribunal member that you believe could affect the outcome of your case, you should raise it during the hearing or pre-hearing. Failing to do so could prejudice your rights and interests.

If you have a complaint, send it, in writing to Tribunal Counsel. Please provide the file number, the name of the member(s), the specific reasons for your complaint (what, when, where). Please also include any supporting documentation you may have.

Tribunal Counsel will respond within 30 working days. If we are not able to complete the review of your complaint within this time period, we will still contact you to confirm that we have received the complaint and let you know what the next steps are.

If your case is ongoing, action on your complaint will normally be postponed until the final decision is issued or the member’s involvement in the case has ended. This is to protect the fairness and impartiality of an ongoing proceeding.

Complaint Process

Tribunal Counsel receives the complaint and reviews it. This may involve discussing the complaint with you.

Tribunal Counsel will assess whether the complaint is one that the Tribunal can consider under this process- in other words that the complaint is not vexatious or about the findings in a proceeding.

If Tribunal Counsel recommends that the Tribunal cannot consider the complaint, Tribunal Counsel will consult with the Chair, unless the complaint is about the Chair, in which case Tribunal Counsel will consult with a Vice-Chair. If the Chair, or Vice-Chair, agrees, the Tribunal will advise you in writing as soon as possible.

If Tribunal Counsel recommends that the complaint describes conduct that allegedly violates the Adjudicator Code of Conduct or that the Tribunal can otherwise consider, Tribunal Counsel will advise the Chair, unless the complaint is against the Chair, in which case Tribunal Counsel will advise a Vice-Chair.

The Chair or Vice-Chair may discuss the complaint with you and the Tribunal Member separately. The Chair or Vice-Chair may also delegate this initial discussion or any other part of the complaint process to Tribunal Counsel or an independent person outside the Tribunal. The Chair or Vice-Chair will assess the complaint and the response and determine whether the complaint can be resolved informally. If it cannot be resolved informally, the Chair, Vice-Chair or delegate will decide whether further investigation is appropriate.

The investigation may include:

  • Discussing the complaint with you, the Tribunal Member, and any other individuals with relevant information;
  • Reviewing the file materials;
  • Gathering and review other relevant information;
  • Consulting with other staff, members, the Chair, the Vice-Chairs, or legal counsel.

After the investigation is completed, the Tribunal will advise you in writing of any outcome of the Chair, Vice-Chair or delegate’s assessment, which can include:

  • Determining that the complaint is not valid or is vexatious and should not proceed further;
  • Determining that the complaint may be valid and referring the complaint to a person outside the Tribunal for further investigation, analysis and/or recommendations;
  • Determining that the complaint is valid and referring the Tribunal Member to professional development such as specific training or education;
  • Determining that the complaint is valid and referring the service issue for policy consideration in order to review and improve the Tribunal’s services.

Contact Information
Tribunal Counsel

Law Society Tribunal
402 – 375 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 2J5

Telephone
416-947-5249

Fax
416-947-5219

Email
tribunal@lso.ca

Effective July 1, 2018