The GCC is seeking views on two proposed changes to how it carries out its Fitness to Practise activity.

1) Hearings Protocol

The GCC is inviting views on a new hearings protocol for the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC). The protocol will replace the existing ‘remote’ hearings protocol published in March 2021 and introduced due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We have reviewed how the existing remote hearing protocol has worked by gathering feedback, insights and learning from participants, including defence representatives, panel members and legal assessors.

We also considered guidance for regulators on fitness to practise hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic published by the Professional Standards Authority in September 2020.

Having held 21 remote PCC hearings since 2021, the GCC considers that there are no disadvantages to holding remote hearings, with their suitability for individual cases to be carefully assessed and considered each time.

Key points in the draft Hearing Protocol

  • The starting point in determining the format of a PCC hearing is neutral.
  • It is a ‘Hearings Protocol’. It is not presumed that hearings will be held remotely.
  • The GCC sees advantages for participants in holding a hearing remotely; equally, it may not be suitable in every case.
  • A set of factors to be identified as relevant when considering the appropriate hearing format.
  • To provide more information on the conduct of the hearing and the procedures that must be followed.

Click here to review the draft Hearings Protocol, consultation document and to submit your views.

Closing date for consultation submission: 31 August 2022 at midnight.

2) Investigating Committee (IC) Decision-making Guidance

The second area the GCC invites views on is its revised Investigating Committee Decision-making Guidance.

The main changes to the guidance, originally published in 2019, include:

  • A new section on conflict of interest when IC members sit to consider a referral for an interim suspension order and the interim suspension hearing.
  • A new section sets out the test to be applied by the IC when determining whether to refer a registrant for an interim suspension hearing.
  • Additional factors identified as relevant when the IC is asked to consider an interim suspension order.

Click here to review the draft Investigating Committee Decision-making Guidance, consultation document and to submit your views.

Closing date for consultation submission: 31 August 2022 at midnight.

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