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What happens if the case is referred to a hearing?
If the Investigating Committee Panel decide that there is a case to answer, your case will proceed to a final hearing. The case will be heard by:
- a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee for cases about misconduct, lack of competence, convictions or cautions and decisions by other regulators;
- a panel of the Health Committee for cases where your health may be affecting your ability to practise; or
- another panel of the Investigating Committee for cases where you may have been entered in the Register as a result of fraud or error.
We usually ask solicitors to prepare the case for, and to act for us at, the final hearing itself. We will give you the details of the solicitors who will act for us when we write to you to tell you the outcome of the Investigating Committee Panel’s decision.
We will put information about the allegation against you on our website four weeks before the date of your hearing. However, this information is not private and we can release it if someone asks for it.
In some cases, it may be possible to finish a case without a full contested hearing. The consent process allows you to provisionally agree a proposed outcome with us, which will then be considered by a panel. The panel will either approve the proposed outcome or send the case to a full contested hearing.
This only applies in cases where you admit the allegation in full and where there is no public interest in holding a full contested hearing. A final hearing is still held, and information is still available to the public, but it can be dealt with more quickly and there is no need to call witnesses. The outcomes which may be agreed are a caution or a conditions of practice or a suspension order.
In some cases, you may apply to be voluntarily removed from the Register. This is likely to only be available if you are no longer fit to practise due to a serious or long-term health condition or if you do not plan to continue to practise. If the panel approve a consent order for your voluntary removal, you will have to enter into an agreement with us confirming that you will no longer practise your profession.
Further information on consent orders is available in our practice notes section.
Occasionally, after a case has been referred for a final hearing, an assessment of the evidence gathered since the ‘case to answer’ decision was made may suggest the evidence is not enough to prove all or part of the allegation. If this happens, we will invite a panel to discontinue either the whole allegation or part of it. The panel will need to be satisfied that discontinuing would be appropriate.
Further information on discontinuance is available in our practice notes section.
You are entitled to be represented, or to represent yourself, throughout the fitness to practise process. It is up to you whether you want to be represented at the final hearing, but you may want to get advice from your union or professional body (if you are a member), or a lawyer.
Where will the final hearing be held?
Your hearing will be held in the country where you are registered, or in London if your registered address is outside the UK. In most cases, hearings in England are held at our dedicated hearing centre in London.