Fitness to practise means having the skills, knowledge and character to carry out the duties required of your profession safely and effectively. Our fitness to practise staff and panel members are responsible for the regulatory work of the EWC. It covers discipline, suitability for registration and Induction appeals.
Who makes referrals to us?
Most of the referrals we receive come from employers and involve allegations of unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence and/or a conviction of a relevant offence.
The obligations of employers and agents, including when they are required to make referrals to the EWC, is set out in legislation. Further information can be found here .
What happens when we receive a case about one of our registrants?
Most cases we receive are put to an investigating committee – these meetings are held in private. The investigating committee must include a minimum of three panel members, including at least one member from the same registrant category as the practitioner involved in the case, and one lay person. The investigating committee is supported by an independent legal adviser who does not participate in the decision making of the committee, but is there to ensure the investigation is fair.
The committee’s role is to decide whether or not there are likely to be findings of unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence and/or a conviction of a relevant offence if the case proceeds to a public hearing.
We will consider all breaches of our Code of Professional Conduct and Practice reported to us, but only investigate those where we believe the threshold for unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence, and/or a conviction for a relevant offence might be met.
For example, a dismissal for:
- tampering with examination coursework;
- an inappropriate relationship with a learner;
- assaulting a learner
is more likely to meet the threshold for unacceptable professional conduct.
Only the most serious examples of breaches of the Code will be referred to a public hearing.
What is a Fitness to Practise hearing?
A public hearing is held when an investigating committee has concluded that a registrant has a ‘case to answer’. The registrant is invited to attend and / or be represented at the hearing.
A fitness to practise committee comprises of a minimum of three panel members, including at last one member from the same registrant category as the practitioner involved in the case, and one lay person. The committee is supported by an independent legal adviser. The committee which sits at a hearing will not have had any previous knowledge of the case.
We asked four panel members about their experiences on the EWC fitness to practise panel.
What happens at a Fitness to Practise hearing?
The EWC’s case is presented by a barrister. Their role is to prove the facts of the case through presentation of documentary evidence and witnesses.
Likewise, the registrant will have had an opportunity to make written representations to the committee prior to the hearing, and may also produce witnesses in support of their case and / or choose to give verbal evidence to the committee.
The committee will consider all the evidence presented on paper, provided by witnesses, before privately considering the facts of the case. Its decision is based on the ‘balance of probabilities’, whether it is more likely than not the facts of the allegations are proven, and whether they amount to unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence, and/or a conviction for a relevant offence. The committee will then decide whether registration should be affected by one of the following disciplinary orders:
- Reprimand: (two years) means registration is not affected and a registrant can continue practising.
- Conditional Registration Order: (any time period) means registration is not affected as long as the conditions set by the Committee are met.
- Suspension Order: (up to two years) means registration is suspended. The individual will not be able to practise. The individual cannot practise in Wales for the period stipulated by the committee.
- Prohibition Order: means registration is removed and the individual will no longer be allowed to practise in Wales. The Committee sets a time period (not less than two years) after which the individual may apply to be re-considered as suitable for registration. Should no such application be successfully made, the Prohibition Order remains in force.
More detailed information about what to expect at a hearing can be found in the ‘ Information for registrants: giving evidence at a hearing ’ leaflet.
Where are the hearings held?
The majority of our hearings take place in Cardiff with some in Ewloe, for the convenience of our registrants in north and south Wales. They usually take place in rented function rooms in public hotels, but in the future, we intend to bring hearings in-house at the EWC's offices.
When are the hearings held?
Notifications of hearings are posted on the EWC’s website five working days prior to a hearing. This notification includes details such as the date, time and venue of the hearing, the employer at the time of the referral and the nature of the matter before the fitness to practise committee. You can find information on forthcoming hearings on this page.
Who can attend the hearings?
In the majority of cases, hearings can be attended by any member of the public or press.
Are registrants obliged to attend the hearings?
No. Some registrants choose not to attend their own hearings but are represented by their union or legal team. Some registrants choose neither to attend nor to be represented.
We encourage registrants to attend and seek advice and support.
How long do hearings last?
The length of hearings can vary from a few hours to several days. Please be aware that hearings can be abruptly adjourned to be concluded at a later date.
Can I bring a camera or audio recording equipment to the hearing?
No camera or audio recording equipment is permitted during hearings.
What happens after a hearing?
A summary document of the outcome of a hearing is prepared upon request by us. We cannot comment on any details disclosed during the hearing itself.