The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia,
Self-Governing Professions 2014
It is a common feature of statutory self-governing professional
regulatory bodies that they are granted authority by the
Legislature to regulate the conduct of their members in the public
interest. This typically includes the power to investigate
complaints about members' professional conduct and competence,
and to "screen" complainants through the investigative
process, in order to make an initial assessment of whether the
allegations raised by the complaint, and the evidence supporting
them, are of sufficient concern to warrant referral to an
adjudicative discipline hearing, or whether the matters raised by
the complaint may be resolved by other means or dismissed without
Despite the preliminary nature of decisions during the
investigative phase, the affected member is entitled to procedural
fairness during the investigation, because of the substantial
interests he or she ultimately has at stake in the professional
discipline process, including the right to practise the profession,
potential loss of livelihood, and professional reputation. The
evolving law in this area has also recognized complainants as
having a sufficient interest in a fair process for review and
consideration of their complaints to attract a degree of procedural
protection at the initial investigative stage; however, the
complainant's interest in a fair process must be balanced
against the rights of the member against whom the complaint is
made, including the member's privacy rights and the applicable
confidentiality obligations of the regulator.
This paper considers the competing procedural rights of members
and complainants at the investigative stage of professional
complaint processes, and the tension between those procedural
rights, in the particular context of disclosure to both the member
and the complainant at the investigative stage. It also discusses
how these issues are transformed and dealt with by the Health
Professions Review Board in the context of the external review
process established for health profession colleges in British
Columbia under the Health Professions Act.
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