Professional Conduct Hearing

The Chief Executive will appoint a panel of not less than five persons, plus a Secretary to hear the complaint (the Professional Conduct Panel).

The Chair of shall be a Barrister or a solicitor who has been in practice not less than 10 years. If by reason of illness or absence the Chair becomes temporarily incapable of performing the duties of the office, the Executive Board of PTI/PTUK acting upon the advice of the Chair, shall appoint another member of the Bar or of the Law Society to act in the place of Chair until he/she is able to resume the performance of the duties of his office.

The membership of the Profession Conduct Panel will consist of a Chair, as specified above, at least three members who shall be Certified or Accredited Play Therapist Members of PTI/PTUK with at least 5 years membership of PTI/PTUK and at least one lay member. 

Purpose

The purpose of the Professional Conduct Hearing is to examine the complaint and decide whether the complaint is proved or not. If proved, the panel will decide whether or not any sanction should be imposed. 

Declaration of Interest

Members of the Professional Conduct Panel have a duty to declare any interest which may be considered by the Chief Executive to affect their impartiality, or likely to be thought so to do. 

Clarification of Complaint

If it is the Chair’s opinion that the complaint does not set out the circumstances of the complaint in sufficient detail to allow the person complained against to comprehend the nature and extent of the complaint so as to afford him/her a fair opportunity of knowing the case that is alleged, direct that better and further particulars are given of the complaint. Until these further particulars are given to satisfaction of the Chair, the complaint shall be stayed. 

Staying of Complaint

The Chair may, after consulting other members of the Professional Conduct Panel as he/she thinks fit, stay (or stay on terms) a complaint if in his or her opinion the primary purpose of the complaint is to obtain a political advantage for the complainant, or some other body, rather than as its primary purpose to initiate proceedings because a breach of safe and effective practice has occurred or the reputation of PTI/PTUK has been brought into disrepute.

Disposal of Less Serious Complaints

If the Chair, after consulting other members of the Professional Conduct Panel, is of the opinion that the issue alleged in the complaint does not constitute sufficiently serious professional misconduct, malpractice nor bring the reputation of PTI/PTUK has into disrepute, or for any other reason of such character that the matter can be disposed of without a full hearing/inquiry he/she shall direct the Secretary: 

  • to send all the particulars that have been sent to the Chair that describe this complaint to the person complained about and inform him/her that the Chair has in mind recommending that a written reprimand shall be issued and that she/he will then be cautioned as to their conduct.
  • to invite the Member to accept this form of disposal of the complaint and the caution issued with this disposal without there being a full disciplinary inquiry

If the Member accepts this means of disposal by way of written reprimand and the Professional Conduct Panel accepts the Chairman’s recommendation in this respect, the Member shall be so reprimanded and cautioned and that will conclude the resolution of that complaint.

Complainant Payment of Costs

When making its direction to the Secretary to take the necessary steps for the holding of an inquiry, the Professional Conduct Panel, if it is of the opinion that the complaint primarily: 

  • is one that if proved would confer substantial personal advantage (in monetary terms or personal reputation), rather than safeguarding children or their parent/carers
  • or the profession, or is brought to avoid incurring costs by bringing legal proceedings against the person or organisation complained of, or
  • is not of the type that it is in the interests of the play therapy profession alone to incur costs resolving the complaint

May direct that the complaint shall not be proceeded with unless the complainant first undertakes in writing to pay the costs of those future proceedings in part or in whole as the Professional Conduct Panel thinks fit. 

Venue

Professional Conduct Hearings will be held at or within the vicinity of the PTUK's headquarters, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Presence of a Representative/support person

When appearing at the Professional Conduct Hearing, the Complainant and Member Complained Against may each be accompanied by a representative who may support and/or speak on behalf of the party concerned. 

The Professional Conduct Hearing will be conducted in accordance with the protocols laid down by PTUK.

Written Evidence

Written evidence and/or submissions and witness statements must be submitted in advance by the Complainant and the Member Complained Against. Such papers must be received by the Chief Executive not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Professional Conduct Hearing. Such papers will be circulated to the Professional Conduct Panel, the Complainant and the Member Complained Against, within a reasonable period prior to the hearing. The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel may take advice on these papers and/or procedural matters from PTUK's solicitor, or the Chief Executive, or such other relevant person as may be deemed appropriate.

New Evidence

The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel will determine whether or not new evidence will be accepted on the day of the hearing. The decision will be based on the conditions laid down in the relevant protocol. The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel may take advice on such matters from the Chief Executive.

Attendance by Witnesses

The Professional Conduct Panel, Complainant and Member Complained Against may call witnesses to attend the hearing. Parties wishing to call witnesses must notify the Chief Executive of the names and details of such witnesses not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the hearing.

Attendance will only be permitted by the Chair of the panel if the witness has supplied a written statement which needs clarification. The panel has discretion to refuse attendance by a witness if it reasonably believes that such attendance is not relevant or will not add any weight to the issue(s) under consideration. Witnesses may be questioned by the panel and either party connected with the case.

Failure to Attend the Professional Conduct Hearing

  • Where a Complainant or Member Complained Against fails or refuses, without good reason or notice, to attend a Professional Conduct hearing, the Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel has the power to decide either:
    1. to proceed with the hearing in the absence of one of the parties;
    2. to adjourn the hearing to a date not less than 28 days in advance;
    3. to terminate the proceedings or;
    4. refer the matter for consideration
  • What constitutes good reason shall be solely at the discretion of the Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel, who may take advice from the Chief Executive or other PTUK members

Notification of Findings

  • The decision of the Professional Conduct Panel will be notified in writing to the parties within 28 days of the Professional Conduct hearing.
  • The decision of the Professional Conduct Panel, together with details of any sanction, will be published in PTUK's journal in such detail as deemed appropriate to the findings and at its discretion. (Such decisions will be based on considerations of public interest and the severity of the findings).

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