These professionals ensure any legal agreements you make are appropriate to your needs.
Legal professionals like lawyers (solicitors) and barristers represent clients in civil and criminal litigation and other legal proceedings. They can draw up legal documents, manage and/or advise clients on legal transactions.
Conveyancers help clients buy and sell property, ensuring all legal obligations are met and that their client’s rights are protected during the transaction.
This page includes information on:
Who can help?
Different government agencies look after the different aspects of the legal system. Find out which one is looking after your concern below.
NSW Fair Trading
We can help you with your rights and protections under Australian Consumer Law. This means we can help you when a legal or conveyancing service you purchased wasn’t of acceptable quality and/or what you asked for.
We are also responsible for regulating licensed conveyancers in NSW. If you believe a conveyancer (or a solicitor performing conveyancing services) has breached the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003, please call us on 13 32 20 or make an online complaint.
Office of the Legal Services Commissioner
The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) is an independent statutory body that can help with complaints about solicitors and barristers in NSW. Disputes can relate to poor communication, costs, mistakes, delays and poor service.
If a dispute involves misconduct, the OLSC may refer the complaint to the Law Society, Bar Association or NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal - Occupational Division for investigation.
The OLSC cannot:
- provide legal advice or representation
- investigate or change court findings
- investigate a complaint in relation to a matter that is currently before a court, or
- deal with complaints about judges or magistrates (see below).
Contact the OLSC on 1800 242 958 or visit the website for more information.
Judicial Commission of NSW
Complaints regarding magistrates and court judges can be referred to the Judicial Commission of NSW. The Judicial Commission can investigate the ability and behaviour of judicial officers in NSW. ‘Judicial officers’ include:
- a judge or associate judge of the Supreme Court of NSW
- a member of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW
- a judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW
- a judge of the District Court of NSW
- the President of the Children’s Court of NSW
- a magistrate, or
- the President of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Visit the website or call (02) 9299 4421 for more information.
Your consumer rights
Australian Consumer Law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services.
In fact, most products and services purchased after 1 January 2011 come with an automatic consumer guarantee that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. This includes legal and conveyancing services.
When you engage a business to provide a service, you have the right to expect ‘acceptable quality’. Services must be:
- provided with due care or skill (taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage)
- fit for any specified purpose (express or implied)
- provided in a reasonable time (when no time is set).
What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the service, the difficulty of the task and other relevant factors.
Remedy when things go wrong
You are entitled to an appropriate remedy from the business when the product or service you purchased does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.
This might be a refund, a further service to rectify the problem and in some cases, reimbursement for damages and consequential loss.
The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is:
If the problem is minor and can be fixed, the business can choose how to fix the problem. You cannot cancel and demand a refund immediately. Instead, you must give the business an opportunity to fix the problem.
If the problem is major or cannot be fixed, you can choose to:
- terminate the contract for services and request a full refund
- seek reimbursement for the difference between the value of the services provided compared to the price paid.
For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.
A problem is considered ‘major’ when it:
- has a problem that would have stopped someone from purchasing the service had they known about it
- is substantially unfit for purpose and can’t be fixed in a reasonable timeframe
- creates an unsafe situation
- doesn't meet the specific purpose or achieve the specific result that the consumer requested.
For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.
Proof of purchase and documentation
You have the right to receive proof of purchase (like an invoice, cash register receipt, handwritten receipt or lay-by agreement). Suppliers must provide proof of purchase for goods and services worth $75 or more (excluding GST).
Legal and conveyancing services in Australia are usually supplied under a contract. A written copy of the contract (including its terms and conditions) must be supplied to you. Keep this for your records and in case you need to refer to the contract terms during a dispute.
Australian Consumer Law allows consumers to claim compensation (reimbursement) when a service does not meet a guarantee. You may be able to claim compensation for your costs (time and money) if something goes wrong with the service. For more information, refer to our contracts page.
If you want to buy or sell a home, land or investment property you’ll have to sign a sale contract. The legal work involved in preparing the sale contract, mortgage and other related documents, is called conveyancing.
It’s possible to do your own conveyancing, however, most people get a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to do the work for them. You can search for a do-it-yourself conveyancing kit online.
Under the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003, professional conveyancers in NSW must hold a conveyancing licence, unless they are:
- a legal practitioner
- part of an incorporated legal practice
- part of a solicitor corporation, or
- part of a conveyancing corporation.
We keep a register of all licences issued under the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003. As well as details of each licence holder, the register includes information about disciplinary findings against licensees, payments from the compensation fund and other matters.
You can check a conveyancer’s licence using our online tool:
Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.
Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?
The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- NSW Fair Trading, and
- other State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.