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Guidance on Professional Conduct Committee adjournments

Introduction

This guidance note is to assist those seeking an adjournment of a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) hearing.

It is a responsibility of the ARB that its professional conduct cases proceed expeditiously and it is in the interest of all parties, and the wider public interest, 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. Accordingly, the parties and their representatives should also be ready to proceed.

The following is to give guidance for Respondents who wish to seek an adjournment of a fixed hearing date. It should be noted, though, that adjournments are not readily or routinely granted.

Adjournment Requests

All adjournment requests should be made as soon as possible and all applications should be made in writing, marked for the attention of the Chair of the PCC panel, c/o The Architects Registration Board. The letter should:

a. Indicate the full reasons why an adjournment is being sought; and
b. Enclose any documentary evidence in support of the application e.g. medical reports.

Reasons

The following reasons will not generally be regarded as providing justification for an adjournment, although each application will be considered on its own merits:

  1. Lack of readiness

The lack of readiness on the part of the Respondent or any claimed clash of engagements, whether professional or personal is unlikely to be considered as reasonable grounds for adjournment.

  1. Uncertified ill-health

Any adjournment request on the grounds of ill-health that is not accompanied by supporting evidence is unlikely to be granted. Any claimed medical condition of the Respondent must be supported by a medical or other certificate indicating that the person is unable to attend the scheduled hearing.  A doctor’s certificate issued only for statutory sick pay purposes or merely indicating that the person is unable to attend work is unlikely to be considered as sufficient.

  1. Inability to secure representation

The inability of the Respondent, for financial or other reasons, to secure the services of a representative at the hearing is unlikely to be considered as reasonable grounds for adjournment.

Powers of the Chair of the PCC panel

The Chair of the Committee panel may agree to the adjournment if the application is made before the scheduled hearing date and if he or she is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so. In doing so the Chair will consider:

  1. the general need for expedition in the conduct of proceedings;
  2. to what degree the Respondent will be compromised in presenting his or her defence if the hearing proceeds;
  3. the likely consequences of the proposed adjournment, in particular its likely length and the need to decide the facts while recollections are fresh;
  4. the reason that the adjournment is required. If it arises through the fault of the party asking for the adjournment then that is a factor against granting the adjournment, carrying weight in accordance with the gravity of the fault;
  5. the history of the case, and whether there have been earlier adjournments and at whose request and why.

The Chair may, in any case where he or she considers it right, advise that the Respondent’s application should be made in person on the scheduled hearing date but before the substantive hearing begins.

Adjournment requests from the Architects Registration Board

Where an adjournment is sought by the ARB, the interest of the architect in having the case heard promptly will be balanced with any public interest reasons for adjourning the proceedings.

Proceeding in the absence of a Respondent

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

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