2. Clarifying and identifying clauses
Working with the Complainant, we will help them to understand the PRCA Professional Charter. The complaint is raised with the Chairman of the PPC who will decide the appropriateness and severity of the complaint. The Secretary has to write to the defendant, informing them of the complaints process and that a complaint against them may be addressed by mediation and/or the PPC through its disciplinary procedures.
The PRCA will always attempt to mediate between the two parties, whether one or both are PRCA members. Mediation offers a third party voice in the process, and we can objectively address the situation against best practice and practical ethics. A majority of issues raised with the PRCA are dealt through mediation.
4. Written observations
The Secretary will send the details of the complaint to the defendant and invite them to submit written observations. These need to be provided within five working days and will be sent to the PPC. The written observations are also sent to the Complainant: therefore the Complainant, Defendant, and PPC will all be party to the same details. The complaint and written observations need to be placed before the PPC as soon as possible. They can decide that there is no prima facie case for disciplinary procedures.
5. Committee stage
The PPC can decide to take the complaint forward. From that point, both parties need to provide a written summary of their case and copies of all relevant documents. The PPC can decide from the outset whether it will make its decision based solely on those documents or whether there needs to be an oral evidence session e.g. a hearing. The PPC’s decision is based solely on facts of the case and the evidence contained in those documents. As before, all documents will be shared with all parties for transparency.
Serious and complex cases naturally require more time and evidence. With that in mind, the Professional Practices Committee can decide that it needs to hold a hearing to consider the case. The hearing offers both the Complainant and the Defendant the chance to make oral submissions to the PPC either personally or through a representative. It gives both sides the chance to explain their case, their evidence, and be extensively questioned by the Professional Practices Committee in an effort to separate fact from opinion.
7. Decision and appeals process
A decision is either reached on the basis of the evidence contained in the documents without a hearing or through that evidence and the oral evidence presented at a hearing.
After the considering the case, the PRCA PPC must decide if there has been a breach (or breaches) of the PRCA Professional Charter and Codes of Conduct and – if so – what sanctions should be applied to the defendant.
If the PRCA PPC concludes that there has been no breach (or breaches), both the Complainant and Defendant will be informed at the same time. There is no appeals process.
If the PRCA PPC concludes that there has been a breach (or breaches), then the Defendant will be informed first and foremost. The Defendant then has five working days to appeal, in writing, to the PRCA Board of Management (PRCA BoM) through the Secretary of the PRCA PPC. The Defendant’s appeal shall be considered by the PRCA BoM together with the PRCA PPC’s written decision. The PRCA BoM shall approve, amend, or overrule the decision which was the subject of the appeal.