Disciplinary Procedure

Introduction

The UKAHPP Disciplinary Procedure (the Procedure) provides a clear, fair and consistent governance framework for managing and resolving concerns about:

  • The professional conduct of Members prejudicial to the good standing of the This does not include concerns about a public protection and a Registrant’s fitness to practice, which are addressed through the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.
  • The conduct of members, including Associate Members, not covered by the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.
  • A UKAHPP Officer’s negligent conduct and reckless disregard or breach of duty or breach of trust.

Concerns under the Procedure will be investigated initially on an informal confidential basis. If the matter cannot be resolved informally formal disciplinary proceedings may be evoked.

Unless specified the term Member is used with this Procedure to include anyone holding UKAHPP Membership or any Member who holds responsibility for discharging a UKAHPP function or an aspect of a function.

The Procedure is intended as a management procedure it is NOT an alternative to the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure. Concerns of a serious nature that may impact on a member’s Registration status will be transferred to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee for Adjudication via the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

  1. General Principles

1.1 The Procedure and subsequent updates will be published on the Public Area of UKAHPP website and the General Secretary will ensure that a copy of the procedure is provided to a Member if they are the subject of a concern.

1.2 At any stage of formal proceedings, a Member may be accompanied by a colleague or ‘McKenzie Friend’ for support. A supporter may not speak on behalf of the Member they are representing or ask questions of the panel or witnesses.

1.3 A Member may choose to be represented at a formal adjudication hearing by an authorised trade union or professional organisation. The Member must inform the General Secretary with details of any representation within 14 days of a hearing. An authorised representative may not answer questions on behalf of a Member.

1.4 The General Secretary will inform a Member of the nature and circumstances of a concern and will provided the Member with copies of relevant documentary evidence accepted by UKAHPP at each stage of the Procedure.  

1.5 The General Secretary may negotiate changes to the framework of the published Procedure in order to accommodate physical and mental health equality requirements such as:

  • Mode of communication – including video link and pre-recorded evidence
  • Use of an interpreter, signer or translator
  • Representation
  • Structure
  • Time-tabling
  • Physical amenities – including privacy screens

1.6 Witness evidence can be provided as a written statement, attendance at Disciplinary Hearing or via video/audio link with prior arrangement with the General Secretary.  

1.7 If witnesses are called to give oral evidence at a Disciplinary Hearing they will be called on an individual basis and will leave the hearing after answering any questions about the evidence they have given.

1.8 If during the course of a hearing significant new evidence of a serious nature emerges about the conduct or performance of the Member, different to the original concerns and which cannot be substantiated during the hearing, proceedings may be adjourned until such time an investigation of the new evidence has been completed.

1.9 If a Member gives sufficient notice that they are unable to attend a Disciplinary Hearing due to extenuating circumstances or health reasons supported by a covering letter from their G.P or NHS consultant, the interview/hearing may be re-arranged.

1.10 Proceeding may progress in a Member’s absence: if the Member fails to give adequate notice of nonattendance; in cases of repeated cancelation/nonattendance; or if a Member’s lack of availability frustrates proceedings.

1.11 The UKAHPP will fund the cost of providing a venue for panel meetings but is not be responsible for travel or other expenses incurred by the Member or witnesses to attend hearings at any stage of the Procedure.

1.12 Once a concern has been informally investigated and it is deemed that further consideration is warranted, the matter will progress to the Adjudication phase of the Procedure.

1.13 In all instances where a matter relates to the conduct of a member/officer whose name is included on the UKAHPP Register of Humanistic Psychotherapists and Psychotherapeutic Counsellors (the Register) and where concerns about a member’s professional standing and fitness to practice in respect of public protection may result in serious sanctions, including termination of membership and removal from the UKAHPP Register, the Investigation Panel via the General Secretary matter will be transferred to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee for Adjudication under the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure. The General Secretary will exercise subsequent responsibilities under the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

1.14 Any individual with responsibility for discharging any aspect of the UKAHPP Disciplinary Procedure who becomes the subject of a concern or has a conflict of interest that is likely to compromise their impartiality and involvement in the procedure will have no involvement in proceedings until the matter is resolved and will be replaced by a deputy.

1.15 If an Officer’s role is compromised by information they are not already aware of this information will be disclosed to the Officer.  

1.16 Nothing within this Procedure shall affect the rights of a member as contained in the UKAHPP Memorandum of Association or Articles of Association.

  1. Raising Concern

2.1 Concerns about a member’s conduct or performance may be raised via:

  • A Director’s Meeting
  • A Committee Meeting
  • A Performance Review
  • An Organisational Complaint
  • Other Agencies and Professions
  • Members of the public
  • Anonymous Reports

2.2 Anonymous concern will only be progressed if there are serious and credible concerns of a criminal nature or threat to public safety.

2.3 Concern about a Member’s conduct or performance will not be accepted if:

  • It is a substantial duplication of an existing concerns or a repeat of a previous concerns where there was no case to answer
  • Fall outside the scope of UKAHPP’s objectives
  • It is vexatious. Regardless of its merits a vexatious complaint is unwarranted, designed to harass or cause inconvenience, irritation, expense and distress to an adversary OR the disruption of UKAHPP – they are malicious born out of ill will and spite. A Complainant may express angry and being aggrieved without a complaint being vexatious
  • It is Frivolous complaints are trivial and have no serious purpose or value. An investigation would be out of proportion to the seriousness of the issue complained about.
  • Concerns are being considered by another organisation or the Police
  • The member is deceased – however an investigation may be conducted.
  1. Investigation

3.1 The General Secretary will contact the Member in writing to inform them that concerns have been raised about their conduct or performance and to convene a meeting to discuss these concerns. The format of the meeting may be face-to-face via telephone or conference facility if acceptable.

3.2 The General Secretary or their nominated deputy will conduct a fact finding investigation.

3.3 The General Secretary will report the findings of their fact finding investigation to an Investigation Panel.

3.4 The Investigating Panel will consist of three members, the Ethics Committee Chair, the Chair of the Board of Directors and General Secretary or their nominated deputies.

3.5 On the balance of probability the Investigation Panel will determine:

3.5.1 If there is a prima facie case to answer – if not the Member will NOT be informed and the matter will be closed.

3.5.2 Whether the concerns are about a Registrant’s fitness to practice, in which case the matter will be referred to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee for investigation under the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

3.5.3 Whether the matter can be addressed through an Informal Interview OR whether formal proceedings are to be invoked.

3.6 The Investigation Panel may co-opt additional member with specialist knowledge about the concern raised, to assist the General Secretary with interviews.

3.7 An Informal Interview will be conducted by the General Secretary within 14 days of a concern being raised.

3.8 An Informal Interview is seen as a process of constructive dialogue for resolving matters without invoking formal disciplinary proceedings.

3.9 The General Secretary will report their findings to the Investigation Panel, including any aggravating or mitigating circumstances reported by the Member.

3.10 The Investigation Panel will decide whether the matter should be progressed.

3.11 If allegations are of a minor and isolated nature and if the Member admits to the allegations, it may be suggested that an apology is in order and may be sufficient – this would not be an official order or instruction and will not be recorded in the Member’s personal file.

3.12 As an alternative to formal disciplinary proceedings, the Investigation Panel may offer support and guidance to the member as a means of improving conduct and or performance. This may include mediation and additional training.

3.13 If a satisfactory conclusion is reached the details of an Informal Interview will NOT normally be recorded in the member’s personal file.

3.14 Details of a concern will be kept on the member’s file if the Investigation Panel decides to invoke formal disciplinary proceedings. The General Secretary will normally inform the Member in writing that proceedings have been invoked, with 7 days of the Investigation Panel’s decision.

3.15 If the Investigation Panel has good and sufficient reason, it may exercise discretion and suspend a member from holding office pending investigation – Interim Suspension orders affecting registration status cannot be issued.

3.16 Concerns that warrant transfer of Adjudication to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee under the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure include:

  • Deliberate falsification of expenses claims
  • Deliberate or negligent disclosure of personal and confidential data about the association, members or service users
  • Convictions of a criminal offence that undermine a member’s ability to carry out their role as an officer of the association
  • Repeated acts of misconduct
  • Use of abusive or offensive language or behaviour, including physical violence, in a professional capacity or in the performance of any official duties.
  • Bullying, harassment, physical or sexual abuse of any colleague or member of the public
  • Actual or intended, malicious disruption of UKAHPP business and functions
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst performing official duties
  • Theft, misappropriation or unlawful destruction of UKAHPP assets/property
  • Deliberate or negligent misuse of UKAHPP equipment or materials
  • Failure to abide or knowingly not abide with the UKAHPP constitution, and governance requirements including statutory and other professional requirements governing UKAHPP
  • Misrepresenting or falsifying personal information about experience, qualifications, capabilities or performance relevant to the member’s registration, accreditation or appointment
  • Failure to declare serious conflicts of interest

3.17 If an officer admits negligence and their resignation is consensual, unless there are additional considerations of a serious nature that cannot be ignored, the investigation will be closed and no further disciplinary action will be taken.

3.18 The General Secretary will inform the Member in writing if concerns have been forwarded to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee within 7 days of the Investigation Panel’s decision.

  1. Adjudication Hearing

4.1 The General Secretary will attend all Adjudication Panel Meetings and will be responsible for guiding and advising the Adjudication Panel Chair, not the Panel, on procedural points only and will take not participate in Panel deliberations and decision making.

4.2 The General Secretary will normally convene an Adjudication Hearing within 3 months of the Member being given notice that formal proceedings have been invoked.

4.3 The General Secretary will normally write to the Member giving notice of a formal Disciplinary Hearing at least 21 days prior to the Hearing, detailing, the time and venue of the Hearing and who will be in attendance.

4.4 The Member will be requested to submit to the General Secretary within 14 days of the Hearing, copies of all documentary evidence they intend to rely on at the hearing, the name and position of all witness they intend to call and whether they will have any formal representation.

4.5 The Panel will consist of four members: one Board Member; one Ethics Committee Member; one Full Accredited Registered Member; and one Lay Member at a minimum, with no prior involvement in the process. Additional members may be co-opted with specialist knowledge on a case-by-case basis.

4.6 A Chair will be appointed from the ranks of the Panel who will preside for the duration of the hearing and who will exercise a casting vote if necessary.

4.7 Before proceedings commence, the Chair will outline the structure of the hearing allowing for:

  • A member of the Investigation Panel to put forward the case against the Member, including witness statements.
  • The Member to put forward their representation, including witness statements.
  • The cross examination of each case and witnesses
  • The Panel to ask questions

4.8 The Chair of the Panel will adjourn the hearing, for a maximum of 90 minutes to allow the Panel to arrive at the facts by a unanimous or majority decision and determine if any Disciplinary Sanction Order are to be applied.

4.9 The issuing of Sanction Orders will be determined with reference to Indicative Sanctions Guidance documents provided by the Ethics Committee, whilst taking into account:

  • Whether Sanction Orders are reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances
  • What action was taken in similar cases
  • The individual’s disciplinary record
  • Any mitigating or aggravating circumstances
  • Whether there have been any re-occurrences of misconduct or poor performance since concerns were first raised

4.10 Sanction Orders include:

  • No Sanctions
  • Written Warning
  • Final Written Warning
  • Improvement Order
  • Conditions of Practice Order
  • Suspension Order
  • Dismissal Order

4.11 The Hearing will re-convene to confirm the Panel’s rulings.

4.12 If the Panel is unable to reach a decision, the Chair will adjourn the Hearing and reconvene deliberations the following working day by email or teleconference as necessary until a decision is reached.

4.13 The Chair will inform the Member by telephone or email once a decision has been reached. Further discussion is not permitted.

4.14 The General Secretary will normally write to the Member within 7 days of the Hearing to confirm the Panel’s decision and the detail of any Sanction Orders.

4.15 The Member will also be informed of their right to submit a written Appeal Application to the General Secretary within 14 days of the Panel’s decision on the grounds that published procedure was not adhered to OR that Sanction Orders are disproportionate and applied unfairly.

4.16 If Sanction Orders are not adhered to and if conduct or performance does not improve the General Secretary will reconvene the Panel with original or new members to consider additional disciplinary action.

4.17 Sanction Orders issued under the Disciplinary Procedure will not normally be posted on the UKAHPP Website.

  1. Appeal

5.1 A Member may submit an Appeal Application to the General Secretary against a Panel’s ruling and the issuing of a Written Warning, Final Written Warning, Suspension Order or a Dismissal Order, within 14 days of the ruling being issued. Stating how they believe proceedings have not been applied in accordance with the published procedure OR believe a Disciplinary Order is unfair and disproportionate. Any evidence in support of the appeal must be attached.

5.2 The General Secretary will acknowledge receipt of an Appeal within 7days of submission.

5.3 The General Secretary will forward Appeal Application and any supporting evidence to the association’s External Moderator whose role it is to review proceedings in order to reach a decision whether to uphold the Appeal or not. The External Moderator will determine which of two modes is most appropriate for conducting the appeal.

5.4 Appeal Panel Review:

5.4.1 The External Moderator in consultation with the Appeal Panel will convene a teleconference meeting(s) supplemented by email correspondence to review the Adjudication Panel’s ruling.

5.4.2 The Appeal Panel may call a full Appeal Panel Hearing – if not the Panel’s ruling will be will be final, there is no further right of Appeal.

5.4.3 Where possible, proceedings of the Appeal Panel Review will be governed by provisions outlined in the Appeal Panel Hearing.

5.4.4 In addition to the External Moderator, the membership of an Appeal Panel will include: one UKAHPP Full Accredited Registered Member; one Lay Member; and an Ethics Committee Member, at a minimum with no prior involvement in the process. Additional Panel members may be co-opted with specialist knowledge as necessary.

5.5 Appeal Panel Hearing:

5.5.1 An Appeal Panel Hearing Chaired by the External Moderator will convene within 28 days of the General Secretary’s notice acknowledging receipt the appeal.

5.5.2 The aim of an Appeal Hearing is to allow the Appellant and a representative of the Adjudication Panel to put forward their representation so as to allow the Appeal Panel to determine whether proceedings have been discharged in accordance with the published Disciplinary Procedure and whether any Sanction Orders have been applied fairly and proportionately – this is not an opportunity to re-investigate concerns.

5.5.3 The General Secretary will provide procedural guidance to the External Moderator.

5.5.4 The External Moderator will preside over meetings. The Panel will make decisions on a one member one vote basis with the External Moderator having a casting vote if necessary.

5.5.5 The External Moderator will request the General Secretary to prepare a pack containing documentation relating to the discharge of the Disciplinary Procedure, which will also be made available to the Member.

5.5.6 The General Secretary will inform the Member in writing of the date, time and venue of the Appeal Hearing within 21 days of the hearing.  

5.5.7 The structure of the Appeal Panel Hearing will be determined by the External Moderator.

5.5.8 The External Moderator will adjourn the Hearing; all participants will withdraw to allow the Panel to deliberate its findings.

5.5.9 The Appeal Panel will consider the evidence presented in order to reach a unanimous or majority decision to:

  • Uphold the appeal completely and withdraw any Sanction Order
  • Uphold the original ruling and issue a lesser and more proportionate Sanction Order
  • Uphold the original ruling and apply additional Sanction Order.
  • Make recommendations to the Board of Directors to update the Procedure.

5.5.10 The Panel’s decision will be communicated to both parties once a decision has been reached. Further discussion is not permitted.

5.5.11 The External Moderator will provide a written report to the General Secretary who will ensure that Panel’s rulings are implemented.

5.5.12 The General Secretary will normally write to the Member within 7 days of receiving the External Moderator’s Report, summarising the Panel’s including any Sanction Orders and the consequences if not complied with.

5.5.13 The Panel’s ruling is final there is no further right of Appeal.

6. Record Keeping

6.1 Once proceedings have been concluded, all hard copies of correspondence and documents will be returned to the UKAHPP Administrator for archiving and all files will be deleted from electronic storage devises.

6.2 In accordance with UKAHPP’s public protection function, an electronic copy of all correspondence and documents relating to a complaint will be held by the UKAHPP Administrator on a password protected computer held within a secure room, for a minimum of 5 years after which they will be deleted.

6.3 Any reference to Sanction Orders held by UKAHPP in the member’s personal file will be removed once sanction requirements have been completed in full.

Note: Full data protection information is available on the Information Commissioners Office website.

Version Control:

Version Status Description Date Completed
1.3.3 Approved Amendments 2019/04/29
1.3.2 Approved Amendments 2018/11/21
1.3.1 Approved Revision 2018/07/10
1.2 Approved Working document 2018/03/10
1.1 Draft Establishing procedure 2018/03/05