RICS APOLOGISES FOR INVESTIGATION WHERE CHARGES ARE WITHDRAWN AT FORMAL HEARING
RICS RESPONDS TO COMPLAINTS ABOUT RICS CONDUCT AND INVESTIGATION OF ITS MEMBERS
Reduced/ Paraphrased for ease of fitting into blog site
Mrs Christine O’Rourke
Head Of Conduct
Our ref: IDT-COR/REG0000101195
Dear Mr Antino
Re: Your complaint against Mr Gutteridge and Mr Baker
You make a number of complaints in your letter…….
I have summarised each of the complaints you have made below as headings in bold and set out my findings and the evidence I have taken into account under these headings.
That Mr Baker failed to view your file when you invited him to do so, that this gave you false reassurance that he had realised the complainant had been harassing your office and that this added to your shock and distress on receipt of formal charges
I have identified two areas where I believe that our investigation could have been improved. The first is that you should have been asked in terms, preferably at the beginning of the investigation, whether Mr Jones had ever consented to your sharing information about him with the adjoining owner. This would have helped you to respond fully to the complaint. I also agree that it would have been better if Mr Baker had identified the relevant documents and requested them at an earlier stage in his investigation as this would have been less confusing for you.
I am sorry for any distress and confusion that these failings caused. Our ongoing training with investigators will focus on identifying the right questions to ask and the right documents to seek at the earliest possible stage.
That the RICS did not invite you to include any documents in support of your defence to the bundle
I have also reviewed the correspondence you received from our Committee Business team prior to the hearing. On 26 March 2014 you were first informed of a hearing date in a letter from Ms Berry. You then entered into further correspondence about your availability for a hearing with the Committee Business team.
These letters do not provide you with any information about when you should provide a bundle for the hearing. Mrs Jones sent you an e mail of 25 April 2014 which attached the Disciplinary, Registration and Appeal Panel Rules and directed you to Rule 23 (which contains the provisions for bundles to be provided to the panel) but did not explain that this included these provisions.
The first letter in which you were told in terms that you should provide a bundle was from Mrs Jones sent on 12 August 2014 confirming that your case was listed for a hearing on 17 September and setting out the requirement that you should provide any documents on which you wished to rely 14 days before the hearing. I understand that this letter arrived when you were on holiday.
The notice you were given of the hearing met the requirements of Rule 23, but I agree that you should have been given more notice that you could provide documents. I also believe that earlier letters that you were sent during the investigation should have been clearer that you could provide documents at any stage of the investigation.
I understand that Committee Business colleagues have already identified that their initial letters should provide more guidance for members facing disciplinary proceedings and that their letter now encloses a help sheet for members which includes information about when to submit a bundle of documents. I have attached a copy of this guidance.
I will also ask for changes to be made to letters sent by the investigation team to ensure that they are clearer. I am sorry that we have not been as clear as we could have been in dealing with your case.
That negligence by RICS in bringing the charges has caused loss to you
I have identified some areas in which we could have done better in investigating the complaint. In particular I have identified that we should have provided you with information about the requirements of Rule 23 in relation to the provision of documents sooner.
Conclusion and independent review
In conclusion I have found that there are four areas where the RICS could have done better in our investigation:
- You should have been asked whether the complainant had consented to information being shared with the adjoining owners
- We should have identified and asked for relevant documents at an earlier stage in the investigation
- You should have been informed that you could provide relevant documents at any point during the investigation
- You should have been informed of the requirements of Rule 23 in relation to the provision of documents for the panel sooner.
I am sorry for these failings. As I have explained we have addressed the last point through changes to the information provided to members with the initial listing letter, we will address the first and second through training for investigators, and will address the third through amendments to our standard letters.
Head of Conduct