Sections 25 to 40 of The Act govern professional conduct matters and the disciplinary process.
Three participants are directly involved in a discipline proceeding: the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) as prosecutor; the registrant as respondent; and the Discipline Committee (DC) as the tribunal.
- The PCC offers the respondent an option to proceed by way of joint submission, which may shorten the time required to conduct a discipline hearing. The joint submission can include one or more matters on which the parties (the respondent and the PCC) agree. These matters may include, for example, facts to be presented in evidence and/or appropriate sanctions in the event of a determination of guilt by the DC.
- In the circumstance where the agreement is not reached on all aspects of the matter to be considered or heard by the DC panel, each party prepares its case in regard to aspects of disagreement, for example, appropriate sanction. The PCC prepares the prosecution and the respondent prepares the defense. Each party may use the assistance of legal counsel in doing so.
- The DC Chair schedules the hearing date and location in consultation with the applicable parties, their legal counsel (if counsel has been engaged), legal counsel of the discipline panel and the appointed Chair of the hearing panel. The Formal Notice of hearing is provided to the respondent at least ten (10) business days before the hearing date.
- Discipline hearings are conducted in accordance with rules established by the DC, without involvement by the Board, and in accordance with the requirements set out in The Accounting Profession Act and administrative law principles and rules established by the courts.
Steps to a Hearing
These steps usually occur at discipline hearings:
- Convening the hearing – entry of the formal complaint.
- Receipt of the respondent’s plea in response to each charge contained in the formal complaint.
- Entry of evidence. This may occur jointly in the form of a statement of agreed facts, or by the prosecution and the respondent separately through the testimony of witnesses.
- Representations or argument by each party – in essence why evidence regarding each specific charge should or should not be seen as professional misconduct or professional incompetence.
- Deliberation by the panel on the charges based on evidence entered; this occurs in camera with only panel members and panel counsel present.
- The discipline panel chair reports verbally the panel’s determination of the charges to the parties and others present at the hearing.
- If the panel determines that the respondent is not guilty, the hearing ends; if the panel determines guilt on at least one charge the hearing continues to a sanctioning stage.
Each party may enter additional evidence (by a statement of agreed facts, or separately as described in clause 3) and make representations and arguments regarding sanction:
- The discipline panel deliberates in camera regarding sanction.
- The panel chair reports verbally the panel’s Order on sanction.
- The hearing is ended.
The respondent is further advised in writing of the determination, Order and compliance requirements. The person who made the initial complaint also is advised of the hearing outcomes.