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Professional Standards Guidance Note – Professional Conduct Committee Adjournments

Introduction

This guidance note has been prepared to help anyone who is looking for an adjournment of a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) hearing.

 

We are responsible for ensuring the smooth progress of professional conduct cases.  It is in the interest of all parties, and the wider public interest as well, for us to ensure that allegations are heard and resolved as quickly as possible. Where a time and venue for a hearing have been set, the PCC should always aim to proceed as scheduled, as should the parties and their representatives.

 

The following guidance is for architectsseeking an adjournment of a fixed hearing date.  It should be noted, though, that the PCC does not readily or routinely grant adjournments.

 

Adjournment Requests

You  should make your request for an adjournment as soon as possible.  Your request should be in writing, addressed to the Clerk to the Professional Conduct Committee, c/o The Architects Registration Board, 8 Weymouth Street, London W1W 5BU.  The letter should:

 

  • set out your full reasons for seeking an adjournment;  and
  • enclose documentary evidence to support your application, e.g. medical reports

 

Reasons

The following reasons will not generally be considered sufficient justification for an adjournment, although each application will be considered on its own merits.

 

Lack of readiness

The architect’slack of readiness or any claimed clash of engagements, whether professional or personal, is unlikely to be considered as reasonable grounds for adjournment.

 

Uncertified ill-health

Any adjournment request on the grounds of ill-health that is not accompanied by certificatedmedical evidence is unlikely to be granted.  Where anarchitect has a recognised medical condition, this must be supported by a medical or other certificate indicating that they are unable to attend the scheduled hearing.  A GP’s certificate issued for statutory sick pay purposes or indicating that a person is unable to attend work is unlikely to be considered sufficient.

 

Inability to secure representation

If the architect is unable, for financial or other reasons, to secure the services of a representative at the hearing, this is unlikely to be considered as reasonable grounds for adjournment.

 

Powers of the Clerk to the Committee

The Clerk to the Committee may agree to an adjournment if the application is made before the scheduled hearing date and if they are satisfied that it is in the interests of natural justice to do so. In considering an adjournment, the Clerk will take into account:

 

  • the general need to ensure that the proceedings progress;
  • to what degree the architect would be compromised in presenting their defence if the hearing went ahead;
  • the likely consequences of the proposed adjournment, in particular, its likely length and the need to decide the facts while recollections are fresh;
  • the reason for the adjournment. If it arises through the fault of the party asking for the adjournment, that would be a factor against granting the adjournment, carrying weight in accordance with the gravity of the fault.
  • the history of the case, whether there have been earlier adjournments, at whose request and why.

 

 

The Clerk may, in any case where they consider it appropriate, seek the approval of the PCCChair, or advise that the architect’s application should be made in person on the scheduled hearing date but before the hearing begins.

 

Adjournment requests from ARB

Where ARB seeks an adjournment, the interests of the architectin having the case heard promptly will be balanced with any public interest reasons for adjourning the hearing.

 

Proceeding in the absence of a respondent

Where an adjournment application is refused, the Committee can exercise its right under the Professional Conduct Committee Rules to proceed with a substantive hearing on the date which has previously been fixed.  The Rules allow a hearing to take place in the absence of the respondent, and the Committee may reach a decision and impose any of the available sanctions it feels appropriate.

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