Professional conduct



The Bar Association's Professional Conduct Department facilitates the investigation and reporting to Bar Council of conduct complaints referred to the Bar Council by the Legal Services Commissioner.

Complaints process

In the first instance, complaints should be addressed in writing to the   Office of the Legal Services Commissioner. If you wish to discuss a matter involving a barrister, prior to lodging a formal complaint in writing with the OLSC, you can phone them on (02) 9377 1800 or Freecall 1800 242 958 (outside Sydney, Australia only). Alternatively, you may contact the Bar Association by e-mail or by phone on ph: (02) 9232 4055 and ask for the Professional Conduct Department.

Relevant legislation

The  Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 came into force on 1 July, along with the rest of the Uniform Law Scheme. The new Uniform Conduct Rules were based on the Australian Bar Association’s ‘Model Rules’, which had been adopted in NSW, in the NSW Barristers Rules 2014.

For more information about the Uniform Law Scheme, visit our  Uniform Law page. 

Ethical guidance

Members requiring ethical guidance may contact the senior counsel on the association's Professional Conduct committees. The names and telephone numbers of senior counsel can be obtained by telephoning the association’s Professional Conduct Department: ph (02) 9232 4055.

The role of senior counsel is to provide an opportunity for discussion to assist members in reaching a conclusion. Any decision and all responsibility is that of the individual barrister. Senior counsel does not give a "ruling". A previous system for providing ethics rulings to barristers was reviewed by the Bar Council some time ago and is no longer in place.

If a barrister wishes to have a record of his or her discussion with senior counsel, the barrister should send a letter to senior counsel recording the facts and the guidance given. The letter should be sent as soon as practicable after speaking with senior counsel. A copy of the letter may also be sent to the director, professional conduct. 

In matters in which conflict of interest or potential breach of confidentiality is alleged, members should always err on the side of caution. When there is any practical potential for breach of barristers rule 118, consideration of the matter should always begin with the view that the brief should be returned. 

Members should, of course, make themselves familiar with the  Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015

Outline of barristers’ obligations to disclose matters to the Bar Council

Barristers are required to apply to renew their practising certificates before 30 June in each year. The renewal form includes questions relating to disclosures barristers are required to make to the Bar Council.

Attached, for the assistance of members, is an outline of the disclosures which barristers are required to make. The outline has been prepared by Ed Muston SC as part of presentation of his CPD seminar on disclosures delivered at the Bar Association on 20 March 2018. It is recommended that barristers watch the online CPD for full details. The online presentation may be accessed by logging in to your CPD account.

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