If you are subject to an investigation or disciplinary action by a governing body, our professional regulation and discipline solicitors can advise you on the best course of defensive action to take.
Many professions must register with a regulatory body, in some cases they can’t practice their trade without doing so. Most governing bodies have the power to revoke your license or registration if they believe you’re unfit to practice or have breached their regulations. In doing so, your livelihood can be damaged and you can be put out of business, particularly if you are confident the allegations aren’t accurate.
Most commonly, the professions that require defence against regulatory bodies include:
- Social workers
- Financial advisors
With our professional advice and guidance, we can mitigate the impact to your career or business before, during and after regulatory investigations. This includes tribunal hearings, appeals and further claims if you have been treated unfairly.
What happens during a regulatory or disciplinary investigation?
An investigation by a governing or regulatory body will usually occur if there are concerns about your fitness to practice your particular line of business. The processes and regulations are different depending on the industry and the professional body that governs it. In general, most will follow a process like this:
- The regulatory body will assess whether the allegations against you are about your fitness to practice or whether they involve a code of conduct breach.
- Initial enquiries are carried out by the regulator. They will typically inform you that they are doing this and will invite you to respond, however you have no obligation to.
- The regulator will begin the investigation by collecting evidence, taking witness statements and liaising with other relevant parties. You will be kept up to date by the regulator throughout this process.
- You will have a deadline to give a written response to the findings, once the investigation is completed.
- The regulator will decide whether you need to be sent to a hearing or tribunal once the paperwork from both sides has been assessed.
If you are taken to a hearing or tribunal, we can help with your defence. We can even challenge a tribunal decision at judicial review where necessary.
What Does Fitness-To-Practice Mean?
By being Fit to Practice, you have the necessary knowledge, skills and character to practice your profession in an effective and high quality manner. Only people deemed Fit to Practice by their profession’s governing body are given the licences or registrations required to practice in that field.
In some cases, depending on the regulatory body, you are also required to be in good physical health in order to be deemed Fit to Practice. This typically includes governing bodies in the medical industry.
You may be required to hold certain accredited qualifications and provide evidence of continued learning during your career in order to meet Fitness To Practice standards.
The codes of conduct for each governing body will vary, and thus the criteria for fitness to practice will also very. Anyone registered with the governing body will have to adhere to the codes of conduct or face the possibility of a regulatory investigation or disciplinary proceedings.
When should I seek legal advice?
A regulatory or disciplinary investigation can have a serious impact on your career even if prosecution does not take place. You should seek legal advice as early as possible in the process, so that you can minimise the impact or damaging effects.
At the very least, your day-to-day business activities will be disrupted whilst you deal with the investigation. You will have to put time aside to attend interviews and write out the necessary paperwork, and the stress that comes with attending tribunals or defending your case can be highly detrimental to your business life.
Our specialists can help relieve some of that burden, and assist in resolving the whole process as quickly as possible. We can also discreetly intervene to minimise the profile of the investigation and resolve matters before too much damage is done to your reputation in the industry.