Fitness to Practise
Fitness to Practise Committee
The Fitness to Practise Committee is required to consider all cases referred to it and to determine whether or not the fitness to practise of the registrant in question is impaired. Hearings are held in public except those relating to a health allegation or interim orders which are generally held in private. It is open to the Committee however to hear such cases in public where it considers that the public interest in holding a public hearing outweighs the interest of the registrant in maintaining their privacy.
The Committee may consider any form of evidence, including oral evidence, subject only to the requirements of relevance and fairness. The Committee may take any breach of the standards of conduct, ethics and performance into account when deciding whether or not the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. The Committee applies the civil standard of proof, i.e. the case will be judged on the balance of probabilities.
When a registrant is given notice of his referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee, the Council must serve on the registrant, as soon as is reasonably practicable, the documents set out in rule 14(1) below:
(a) finalised particulars of the allegation, sufficiently particularised to enable them to understand the allegation;
(b) any statements of evidence, expert reports or other documents relied upon by the Council in support of its case, not previously served upon the person concerned;
(c) any evidence or documents that the Council has in its possession (other than documents for which privilege is claimed) which, whilst not relied upon by the Council, may assist the person concerned in the preparation of their defence;
(d) a list of witnesses whose evidence is (or whose oral evidence will be) relied upon by the Council in support of its case;
(e) a copy of the listing questionnaire duly completed by the Council; and
(f) any time estimate for the duration of the Council’s case.
As soon as reasonably practicable after the date of service of the material by the Council, and in any event, not less than 28 days before the date of the hearing, the person concerned must serve on the Council: any statements of evidence including witness statements, expert reports or other documents; and a list of witnesses whose evidence is or whose oral evidence will be relied upon by the person concerned in support of their case. The parties must also notify the secretary of any changes to the agreed time estimate.
At any time before the commencement of a hearing either party may serve on the secretary and the other party a written request for a case management meeting. The request must state why the party is seeking a case management meeting, state what directions are sought for the management of the case and state whether the person making the request seeks the participation of the parties at the meeting or whether the issues can be dealt with without oral representations. The Committee secretary then sends a copy of the request, together with any other material considered relevant, to the chair. The chair must agree to the request unless he determines it is unnecessary or the request is an abuse of process.
Cases should normally progress to hearing within around seven months post referral by the investigating committee. A Notice of Hearing must be served on the registrant, not less than 28 days in advance of the hearing, unless the registrant agrees otherwise.
Decisions of the Committee
If the Fitness to Practise Committee determines that the fitness to practise of the person concerned is impaired, it may:
• give a warning to the person concerned in connection with any matter arising out of, or related to the allegation and give a direction that details of the warning be recorded in the Register;
• give advice to any other person or other body involved in the investigation of the allegation on any issue arising out of, or related to, the allegation;
• give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be removed;
• give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be suspended, for such period not exceeding 12 months as may be specified in the direction; or
• give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be conditional upon that person complying, during such period not exceeding 3 years as may be specified in the direction, with such requirements specified in the direction as the Committee thinks fit to impose for the protection of the public or otherwise in the public interest or in the interests of the person concerned.
The Registrar must notify the registrant of any decision made by the Committee, together with the reasons for that decision and any right of appeal. In practice, this will be done by the Committee Secretariat. Where possible the decision will be sent the next working day after the decision is made.