UK: Disciplinary Proceedings Before Regulatory Bodies

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
Article by Michael Balmer

Michael Balmer, specialist solicitor at Cartwright King Solicitors outlines the regulatory procedure when summoned to a disciplinary proceeding by a regulatory body.

Most, if not all, professions have their own regulatory body. Examples include the General Medical Council, The Healthcare Professionals Council, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and Chartered Institute of Insurance Brokers.

There are many regulatory bodies in the UK whose primary role is the fitness to practice of their members and whose duty is to uphold public confidence in their respective profession. They will each have a policy governing its members and outlining the sanctions available to those who do not comply.

If a member of a regulatory body does not act in line with the standards expected, they could face disciplinary proceedings, and ultimately could be prohibited from working in their chosen field of expertise.

The procedure involved will be largely the same for each regulatory body and is not that dissimilar to criminal proceedings: there will be an investigation and fact finding exercise undertaken by the regulator. There will usually be expert evidence adduced to assist the regulator to come to its determination. Unlike criminal proceedings, the respondent will be entitled to engage with the regulator and make written representations during the investigation process. Taking legal advice at an early stage is crucial.

Once the investigation is complete, an officer of the regulator will decide whether the matter should be dealt with by administratively or referred to a disciplinary panel if the matter warrants a heavier penalty.

A disciplinary hearing will take place before a panel made up of members of the regulatory body. The regulator will be legally represented by a solicitor or barrister who will present its case. The respondent will usually be entitled to be legally represented as well. If the allegations are denied, live evidence will be called and the panel will be required to decide if the allegations are made out or not. If the allegations are accepted, then the respondent will be entitled to make representations and mitigate.

The regulator will have sanctions available, ranging from written warning or requiring undertakings as to future conduct, to being fined or struck off an approved list of practitioners. In the worst cases, an individual could be prohibited from working in their chosen field.

The consequences can be very serious to an individual. Not only are there the financial consequences of losing a job, but also the stigma of being deemed unfit to practice in your chosen career by your peers. In the most extreme cases, the prohibition can be permanent.

The importance of seeking representation at an early stage cannot be overstated. Cartwright King is uniquely placed to utilise its nationwide presence and expertise to advice on any type of regulatory proceedings. Contact one of our Regulatory team today.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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