Complaint against a lawyer
You can make a complaint if you believe that a lawyer has violated the Code of Conduct for Norwegian Lawyers or charged excessive fees.
- What can I complain about?
- What can I not complain about?
- Who can complain?
- What can I accomplish by making a complaint?
- Fee repayment
- Legal costs
- What deadlines apply?
- How do I make a complaint?
- Electronic complaint
- Complain about multiple lawyers
- Multiple complainants
- Use a representative
- How to write the complaint
- How is the complaint processed?
- What is the complaint processing time?
- What can I do if I disagree with the decision?
- Processing of personal data
- Login errors in the portal
The complaint scheme is free and you submit the complaint electronically through the Advokatklageordningen portal. The complaint will be dealt with by the Disiplinærnemnden for advokater (the Disciplinary Board for Lawyers).
Below you can find more information about making a complaint against a lawyer.
If you have questions about how to write your complaint, take a look at our guide: How to write a complaint about a lawyer.
What can I complain about?
You can make a complaint about a lawyer or a trainee lawyer.
The complaint must be about the lawyer/trainee lawyer’s conduct (professional conduct for lawyers), fees or both. The complaint should contain a brief and precise description of what your complaint is about.
What can I not complain about?
The complaint cannot be about a case that is in front of the courts if the same issue will be relevant in both the complaint and the case. In these circumstances, the complaint will be dismissed, irrespective of whether the case was brought before the court before or after the complaint was submitted via the Advokatklageordningen.
Who can complain?
To make a complaint against a lawyer, you must have a genuine interest in the complaint (standing). Whether you are considered to have a genuine interest in the complaint is based on a fact-specific assessment. This assessment will consider factors such as your connections to the case and the extent to which you were impacted by the alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct for Norwegian Lawyers. Normally, the parties in the case the lawyer has assisted on are considered to have a genuine interest in the matter. However, a formal client relationship is not required. If the complainant is not considered to have a genuine interest in the complaint, the complaint will be rejected.
What can I accomplish by making a complaint?
If the complaint is successful, the lawyer may be subject to criticism, a reprimand or a warning. A warning is the most severe of these forms of discipline.
In complaints related to the size of the fee, the Disciplinary Board may decide that the fee shall be reduced or cancelled. The lawyer may then be ordered to repay the fee in part or in full.
The Disciplinary Board’s decision about fee repayment is enforceable. If the lawyer does not repay the fee in accordance with the Board’s decision, you can get in touch with the bailiff/enforcement office to get help with enforcing the decision.
A fee-related complaint will not impact the due date of any unpaid invoices from the lawyer.
The complaint scheme is free and legal costs can only be awarded to the complainant.
If you have incurred expenses in connection with the complaint and your complaint is successful, you may be awarded legal costs. Claims for legal costs must be made in the complaint and must be documented.
You will not be awarded damages even if your complaint succeeds. If you want damages on the basis of errors you believe the lawyer has made, the claim must be made to the lawyer’s insurer. For information about where the lawyer is insured, you can contact the Supervisory Council for Legal Practice.
What deadlines apply?
The complaint must be submitted within six months of the date you knew or ought to have known about the issues the complaint relates to. If there are special reasons that meant you were unable to complain within the deadline, you may nevertheless submit a complaint after the expiry of the deadline. The Disciplinary Board will then assess whether to consider the complaint.
If the situation you are complaining about took place more than three years ago, your complaint will be rejected regardless of your reasons for submitting your complaint late.
The deadline is generally calculated from the date the complaint is received, or in other words from the date the complaint was submitted via the Advokatordningen portal.
How do I make a complaint?
Complaints about lawyers must be submitted electronically via the Advokatklageordningen.no portal.
You must have an electronic ID to log into the portal. You can choose from five electronic ID options: MinID, BankID, BankID on mobile, Buypass ID on smart card, Buypass ID in mobile and Commfides. You can find information about how to get an electronic ID at http://www.difi.no/elektronisk-id/slik-skaffer-du-deg-elektronisk-id.
You must log onto the portal via a computer – you cannot use a mobile phone or tablet. We recommend that you use Google Chrome as your web browser, or alternatively Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
If you are unable or unwilling to submit the complaint yourself, you can authorise someone else to represent you in the complaint: see the section on “Use a representative”.
Complain about multiple lawyers
If you want to complain about multiple lawyers, you must submit one complaint for each lawyer. Each complaint will get its own case number. If the complaint is about a trainee lawyer, the complaint must also include the lawyer in charge of the file / principal.
You can register multiple complainants in one complaint. If you are acting on behalf of one or more complainants, you must upload an authorisation from each of the other complainants as an attachment to the complaint. Read more about authorisations in the “Use a representative” section.
Use a representative
You can be represented by someone else in the complaint, and you can also act on behalf of multiple complainants in a complaint.
The representative will be the only one receiving notices about the complaint. It is important that the representative keeps the complainant(s) continuously informed about the complaint.
The representative must have an authorisation from all of the complainants. This applies even if the representative is also a complainant. If the authorisation has not been provided, the complaint may be rejected because the complainant does not have a genuine interest in the complaint.
The authorisation must be uploaded under “Documentation” when registering the complaint. The authorisation must be for the complaint in question; it cannot be a general authorisation. The authorisation must be in writing and must contain the complainant’s full name and date of birth, the representative’s full name and date of birth, a brief description of what the complaint/authorisation is about and the complainant’s signature.
A lawyer who represents their client in a complaint does not need to provide an authorisation.
How to write the complaint
The complaint should contain a brief and precise description of what your complaint is about.
The parties are responsible for providing all relevant information and for documenting their arguments. The information you provide must shed light on why you believe the Code of Conduct for Norwegian Lawyers has been violated, or on why the fees should be reduced or repaid.
Only include documents that relate to the complaint, such as the retainer, correspondence and time sheets. If the complaint is about the lawyer’s fees, you must include information about whether you have unpaid invoices from the lawyer.
All documentation provided in the case will be presented to the lawyer the complaint is about.
Limit the personal data included in the documentation, and especially the personal data of third parties. For more information about personal data, see “Processing personal data”.
We recommend using the PDF and JPEG formats, but you can also use Word, Excel and PNG. Audio files, video files and website links cannot be uploaded as documentation, but you can enclose transcriptions.
You can upload up to 9 files as attachments to the complaint, at a maximum of 5 MB per file. One file may contain multiple documents. The attachments must be presented in an orderly and logical manner and must be titled V1, V2, V3, etc.
We recommend that the complaint be saved and reviewed before submission, so that you can check that all the information is correct and that all the documentation has been included.
In order for your complaint to be processed you must agree that the Disciplinary Board may process personal data about you under Article 6(1)(a) and Article 9(2)(a) of the GDPR. Such consent is provided at the time the complaint is submitted.
Note that when you complain about your own lawyer, the Disciplinary Board assumes that you have released your lawyer from their duty of confidentiality to the extent necessary to provide information relevant to the complaint.
How is the complaint processed?
The complaint processing is electronic, and all communication related to the complaint takes place in the Advokatklageordningen portal.
You will receive an email notification every time there is a message for you in the portal. If you use a representative, the representative will receive the notifications. It is important that you or your representative pay attention to the email notifications and log into the portal to read the messages, as deadlines may apply.
Once we have registered your complaint, it will be made available to the lawyer, who will be given a deadline for their response.
In an ordinary complaint, each party may make two written submissions each. For the complainant, this is the complaint itself and a final submission. You will receive a message in the portal when it is your turn to make a submission, and you will be told what the deadline is for your submission. If you do not make your submission by this deadline, the complaint will move forward without it. The standard deadline for submissions by the parties is two weeks.
Once the case preparation is complete, the complaint will be sent to the Disciplinary Board for further processing.
The “Advokatklageordningen” lawyer complaint scheme is based on the principles of disclosure and adversarial proceedings. A submission by one party will be available to the other party and to anyone else participating in the processing of the complaint. In contrast, notifications are a communication channel between you and the case officer, and are not included in the case documents.
You can check the status of the complaint at any time by logging into the portal and selecting the appropriate complaint under «My cases».
What is the complaint processing time?
The Disciplinary Board does not have a processing deadline, but strives to address all complaints within six months of receiving them.
What can I do if I disagree with the decision?
A decision by the Disciplinary Board is final and cannot be appealed, but judicial review proceedings may be brought before the court.
Complaints about errors in the case processing may be made to the Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration. The Parliamentary Ombud cannot overturn the Disciplinary Board’s decision, but can make a statement about whether an error has been made in the case processing.
If you become aware of information that was previously unknown to you and that may lead to a different decision, you can petition to have the case re-opened by the Disciplinary Board. This petition must be made within three months of the date on which you gained, or ought to have gained, knowledge of the information that your petition is based on.
The Disciplinary Board may decide to re-open the case if, on a balance of probability, you have substantiated that you were not previously aware of the information your petition is based on. The party that petitions to have the case re-opened has the burden of proof for showing that the Disciplinary Board would have reached a different decision. This is established in the Disciplinary Board’s previous decisions, such as ADA-2019-D45 (requires a subscription to Lovdata).
In recent years, less than 1% of all cases that have been heard have been reopened by the Disciplinary Board.
A petition to re-open a case must be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All disciplinary decisions made in the past five years are publicly available. A printout of the lawyer’s disciplinary record is available to the public on request. No reasons need to be given for such a request.
When access to a disciplinary decision is requested, the lawyer in question will receive notice that access has been requested.
Information that may identify the complainant’s name, clients or that is otherwise subject to a duty of confidentiality will be anonymized before the decision is made publicly available.
There is more information about how the decisions are made public in the Guidelines for public access to disciplinary decisions
Processing of personal data
The Disciplinary Board is subject to the Personal Data Act’s provisions on the processing of personal data in the processing of a complaint. In order for the Bar Association to process personal data in a complaint, it needs a basis for doing so.
The basis for the Disciplinary Board’s processing of personal data about the complainant is consent, cf. Article 6(1)(a) and 9(2)(a) of the GDPR. Such consent is provided at the time the complaint is submitted.
The basis for the Disciplinary Board’s processing of personal data about the lawyer the complaint is about is Article 6(1)(c) and (e) and Article 9(2)(g) of the GDPR, cf. section 5-1(4) of the Regulations for advocates.
Article 4(1) of the GDPR defines personal data as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person”. Some personal data will be so-called special categories of personal data, and Article 9 of the GDPR defines these as information on «racial or ethnic origin», «political opinion», «religion», «philosophical belief», «Union membership «, «processing of genetic data», «biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person», «data concerning health», or «data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation».
The complaint scheme is voluntary and the parties determine what information and documentation will form the basis for the processing of the complaint. We recommend that you limit the inclusion of personal data, and only provide the information necessary to the complaint. The information and documentation submitted by the parties are only used to process the complaint and are only available to specific case officers in the Bar Association and to the members of the Disciplinary Board who are processing the complaint. All of these individuals are subject to a duty of confidentiality. The Bar Association does not seek out information in relation to the complaint.
Complaints that are processed by the Disciplinary Board are regulated by the Archive Act.
Login errors in the portal
Log onto the portal via a computer – do not use a mobile phone or tablet.
If you have trouble logging into the portal, we recommend that you:
1) Check whether you can log in by using a different browser (we recommend Google Chrome)
2) Check that your electronic ID works when you log into your bank or another public portal
Questions about errors caused by the ID-porten must be directed to the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency’s user support for ID-porten.
For other errors, contact the “Advokatklageordningen” using “Contact user support” on the portal login page.
How to write a complaint about a lawyer
Code of Conduct for Lawyers, with comments (in Norwegian)
Regulations for advocates (in Norwegian)
Courts of Justice Act (in Norwegian)
Processing rules for the Bar Association’s Disciplinary Council (in Norwegian)
Guidelines for public access to disciplinary decisions (in Norwegian)
User support for ID-porten (in Norwegian)