What we do
The Advocates Complaints Commission is a department in the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice mandated to inquire into complaints against advocates, law firms and their employees. The complaints concern acts of professional misconduct against an advocate. (Link: Legal Watch, LSK Code of Ethics and Conduct for Advocates)
Lodging a complaint
The complaints are received by way of a designated form, the Help Form (Link: Help Form). The Help Form should be completed by the person who wishes to lodge a complaint and duly signed. Other particulars that should accompany the Help Form include copies of any evidence that supports the complaint and a copy of the Identity Card of the person who wishes to lodge a complaint.
Once a complaint has been received at the Commission, it is allocated a File Reference Number.
The Stages of a complaint
The complaint undergoes various stages depending on its nature and substance.
- The review and investigation stage
- The mediation stage
- The prosecutorial stage
The review and investigation stage
The review process involves going through the particulars stated in the Help Form and supporting evidence and making a determination guided by the following:
On one hand, if the particulars of the complaint are anything other than acts of professional misconduct against an advocate, the complaint is rejected and the file closed. The complainant is subsequently notified of the rejection of the complaint detailing the reasons and the closure of the file.
On the other hand, if the particulars of the complaint constitute acts of professional misconduct, the investigative process begins. This involves evaluating the evidence currently available. If the evidence available confirms the complaint, the advocate is notified of the particulars of the complaint and a detailed response setting forth in full an explanation of the facts surrounding the complaint is sought from him. If there is need for further evidence, enquiries are made by seeking further information from:
- the person making the complaint,
- third parties who include insurance companies, law firms, the judiciary and other relevant institutions/persons.
Once the investigation is completed, a determination is made as to whether act(s) of professional misconduct have been established or not. If the complaint is not upheld, the person who lodged the complaint is notified, giving reasons why the complaint cannot be sustained and consequently the file is closed. If the complaint is upheld, it proceeds either to the arbitration stage or the prosecutorial stage.
The mediation stage
The complaints are referred to the mediation process where parties to the complaint consent to subject to complaints to the In- House Dispute Resolution mechanism. The parties mutually set a date to hold the In-House Dispute Resolution session. The complaint is determined by the parties mutually entering into an agreement. Upon the settlement of the terms of the agreement, the complaint is marked as settled and the file is closed. In default of the terms of the agreement, the matter is referred to the prosecutorial stage.
The complaints which may be subjected to the In- House Dispute Resolution mechanism, should not be of a serious or aggravated nature.
The prosecutorial stage
This involves the referral of complaints to the Advocates Disciplinary Tribunal for determination. The prosecutors at the Commission prosecute the matter on behalf of the complainant. The Disciplinary Tribunal ‘s determination is final and if either of the parties disagree the recourse is to the High Court.
The services offered at the Commission are free of charge.