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The filtering stage of the Fitness to Practise process – Case Examiners/Investigating Committees

Please click here for the series of briefings on the Fitness to Practise process.

Not every complaint against a Registrant will merit a fact-finding hearing in front of a Fitness to Practise Panel. This may be apparent relatively early on in the investigation process. Only the designated decision-makers[1] will be able to determine whether the investigation should be closed or the matter referred to a full hearing.

Before that decision is made, the regulator’s preliminary investigation will be concluded. Usually, the regulator will have written to the Registrant disclosing the evidence which has been gathered, together with specific allegations based on that evidence. The Registrant will have been afforded an opportunity to submit evidence and representations.

Where, at the conclusion of the investigation, it seems highly likely that the designated decision-makers would close the investigation and take no further action, some regulators send the case for consideration without disclosing evidence to the Registrant or affording them the opportunity to make submissions[2]. If the Case Examiners determine to close the matter with no further action, that brings the process to an end more swiftly. If the designated decision-makers feel some other disposal is appropriate, then the Registrant is afforded the usual opportunity to review the evidence and make representations.

The key decision for the designated decision-makers is whether the case ought to be referred to a full fact-finding hearing in front of a Fitness to Practise Panel. At many regulators, at the filtering stage, the decision-makers have the power to close the investigation whilst at the same time taking some action, such as giving advice or warning. The HCPC is an exception. In making the decision about referral the decision-makers apply the real prospect test which we explore in our next briefing in this series.

[1] Case Examiners or Investigating Committee depending on the Regulator

[2] This approach is adopted by the GMC


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.