How can I make a complaint?
You can send your written complaint by post or email.
Generally complaints should be addressed to:
Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar
GPO Box 9991, Melbourne Vic 3001
You will need to include the following details with your complaint:
Your full name
Contact telephone number
Case name and file number (if applicable).
Complaints about delays in delivery of reserved judgments and the conduct of judicial officers should be addressed to the Chief Judge (see “Delay in delivery of reserved judgments” and “Judicial conduct” below).
The Court will acknowledge your complaint
The Court will generally acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and will endeavour to provide a formal response within 20 working days.
Types of Complaints
You may make a complaint about the services delivered by registry staff and other administrative staff of the Court. Such complaints are generally referred to the manager of the registry in which the complaint arose.
Judicial decisions and conduct of proceedings
If your complaint relates to the decision of a judicial officer or the conduct of proceedings, this is not a matter that the Chief Judge or the Chief Executive Officer can investigate. Allegations of errors by a judicial officer in the conduct of proceedings, the evidence relied upon or decisions made can only be determined by way of the formal appeal process.
There are time limits for the filing of an appeal. The Court’s website has information on appeal processes. You may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether appealing the decision in your case is appropriate. Court staff cannot provide legal advice.
The Court has a judicial complaints policy which establishes procedures for the handling of complaints about judicial conduct.
Complaints relating to judicial conduct should be addressed to:
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Delay in delivery of reserved judgments
The Court's judicial complaints policy also establishes a protocol relating to the delivery of reserved judgments. The protocol is designed to ensure that decisions are handed down, and reasons are given, as expeditiously as possible. The benchmark for the handing down of reserved judgments is within 3 months of the hearing or receipt of written submissions.
Complaints relating to the delivery of reserved judgments should be addressed to the Chief Judge, whose details are provided below, or to the President of the appropriate State or Territory Law Society/Institute or Bar Association.
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Complaints in pending proceedings
Generally, it will not be appropriate for the Court to investigate complaints about the conduct of pending proceedings. In most cases it will be appropriate for you to raise your complaint in court when your matter is next listed for hearing.
If you believe a child is at risk or has been abused, you should report it to the relevant welfare authority in your State or Territory. Unlike welfare authorities, the Court does not have the power to investigate abuse.
Complaints about family consultants
The Court’s Child Dispute Services (CDS) is responsible for overseeing the work of family consultants. Assessments undertaken by family consultants form part of the evidence presented in court proceedings. If you are concerned about the conduct of a family consultant, or the report or memorandum they have provided to the Court, the appropriate forum for raising this is within the proceedings.
If your complaint is in regards to a Family Report then the mechanism for doing this is by cross-examination of the family consultant. This is where you, or your lawyer (if you have one) ask the family consultant questions about the contents of the report and their assessment of your family.
If your complaint is in relation to a Memorandum to Court, prepared for an interim court event, then you (or your lawyer) are still able to raise your concerns within the proceedings.
If you wish to cross-examine the family consultant who prepared your report, you (or your lawyer if you have one) must write to the family consultant at least 14 days before the hearing in order to ensure they are available.
If you are seeking to have the family consultant assigned to your case replaced with a new family consultant, this can only be done by applying to the Court within the current court proceedings. You should seek legal advice about this. Court staff cannot provide legal advice, however procedural advice may be obtained by contacting the National Enquiry Centre on Live Chat, by calling 1300 352 000, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints about family consultants, or the assessment they have conducted, cannot be investigated nor brought to the attention of the family consultant while the matter is currently before the Court. This is because the family consultant is an expert witness and doing so could be considered to be interfering with a witness in a matter.
Complaints should be made by email to email@example.com. Complaints about a family consultant will be directed to a senior CDS staff member for review. The senior officer reviewing your complaint will provide you with a written response. Family consultants work within a clinical governance framework, are subject to quality assurance mechanisms and are required to participate in regular professional development and supervision. Feedback by way of complaints can assist CDS in ensuring the ongoing quality of its service.
Lawyers, Independent Children’s Lawyers, and legal costs
You may bring to Court’s attention issues relating to the conduct of another party’s lawyer or an independent children’s lawyer only if the conduct has adversely affected your current case. The Court cannot deal with such complaints after final determination of your matter.
If you have a complaint about the conduct of your lawyer, about a bill you have received from your lawyer, or about the conduct of another lawyer, including an Independent Children’s Lawyer, that does not relate to current proceedings before the Court, you should contact the relevant body in your State or Territory – see below for contact details.
In relation to complaints about Independent Children’s Lawyers, you may wish to also notify the relevant State or Territory legal aid body responsible for appointment of the Independent Children’s Lawyer in your matter.
Note - it is a good idea to first try and resolve any issues directly with the lawyer before making a formal complaint.
Australian Capital Territory
Level 4, 1 Farrell Place
Canberra ACT 2601
DX 5623 CANBERRA
Phone: 02 6274 0300
New South Wales
Office of the Legal Services Commissioner
Level 9, 75 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9377 1800 or 1800 242 958
Fax: 02 9377 1888
Law Society of the NT
PO Box 2388
Darwin NT 0801
Phone: 08 8981 5104
Fax: 08 8941 1623
Legal Services Commission
Level 30, 400 George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000
Phone: 07 3564 7726
Outside Brisbane: 1300 655 754
Fax: 07 3564 7700
Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner
Level 10, 30 Currie Street
Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 230
Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: 08 8212 7924 or 1800 337 570 (free call)
Fax: 08 8231 0747
Law Society of Tasmania
28 Murray Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6234 4133
Fax: 03 6223 8240
Victorian Legal Services Board & Commissioner
Level 5, 555 Bourke Street
Phone : 03 9679 8001
Fax: 03 9679 8101
Legal Practitioners Complaints Committee
Level 6, 111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 6211 3699
Fax: 08 6211 3650
Vexatious complaints and complainant misconduct
The Court may not respond to your complaint if it is vexatious or lacks substance. The Court has no power to investigate allegations of corruption or criminality. If a complaint raises issues which have already been responded to then no further response will be provided.