Guidance on holding case-management meetings
A case-management meeting is an important tool which allows the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) Chair and the parties to raise and resolve issues in advance of a PCC hearing. The Chair may then give directions for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the case. Case-management meetings are provided for at Rule 12 of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules which states:
“The Chair may direct that the parties participate in a case-management meeting, each party having previously given such written notice as may be directed of any applications a party wishes to make or directions proposed including directions which are proposed by agreement between the parties.”
Directing a case-management meeting
Any time after the case has been referred to the PCC the Chair of the PCC or the panel Chair can direct that a case-management meeting take place. In such circumstances the Chair will contact the ARB Hearings Officer (HO) in writing and the HO will contact the parties and arrange the meeting.
The ARB Presenter and/or the architect under investigation (or their representative if they have one) can also request a case-management meeting. This may be where they are seeking directions from the Chair or where they wish to discuss a preliminary issue or application which will affect the upcoming hearing. Such a request should be made to the HO in writing and the request will be passed to the Chair for consideration. The Chair can then direct a case-management meeting or make other interlocutory directions where this is deemed more appropriate.
Arranging a case-management meeting
The HO will seek a mutually convenient time for the meeting to take place and will take advice from the Chair as to the length of time required. The HO will arrange the case management meeting, providing reasonable notice to all parties.
Where sufficient efforts have been made to secure a mutually convenient time, and where such a time cannot be reached, the HO will advise the Chair accordingly and take advice on when the meeting should be held.
If one of the parties is not engaging and/or is not present at the meeting this does not fetter the Chair’s ability to make directions in their absence.
Holding a case management meeting
Case-management meetings will usually be held via telephone conference. Case-management meetings are held in private. The HO will provide the conference call details to the parties in advance and will administer the call.
At the case-management meeting the ARB will be represented by its Presenter and the HO will be present to provide administrative support to the Chair.
The directions made will be written up by the HO and approved by the Chair. This will be circulated to the parties as soon as possible after the meeting.
What directions can the Chair make?
The Chair can issue directions which the ARB and/or the architect need to follow. These directions may include (but are not limited to):
- time limits for the service and disclosure of evidence;
- a timetable for any steps to be taken in order to deal with the case expeditiously;
- the length of the hearing and any dates parties, or their witnesses, would be required to attend the hearing;
- directions pertaining to expert evidence;
- special measures to be put in place at the hearing for vulnerable witnesses;
- a requirement to obtain medical evidence where the health of the architect is to be raised as an issue in the proceedings;
- an agreed statement of facts where the facts are not in dispute;
- that a scheduled hearing be postponed or cancelled.
In considering what directions to make, the Chair should think about how their decision will help the Committee to deal with the allegation proportionately and effectively.
Where the Chair considers that a matter raised is not appropriate for consideration at a case-management meeting, they may decline to hear it or defer it for consideration by the Committee panel at the scheduled hearing.
What happens if directions are not met?
In the event that one or more directions is not going to be met, the party concerned can apply to the Chair to vary the direction(s). They should do so in writing to the HO. The HO will pass the matter to the Chair for consideration.
Where there has been a breach of direction(s) this is a matter which may be brought to the attention of the Committee panel at the final hearing. This factor may be taken into account when considering the merits of any relevant application. For example, where the Chair has directed the disclosure of relevant medical evidence and this is not produced, an adjournment application made on this basis may fail.