A guide intended to help answer questions about the fitness to practise process and what to expect.
In view of the current coronavirus pandemic, we have adapted our fitness to practise hearings process to ensure that we continue to meet our overarching objectives. As a result, we are holding hearings remotely by electronic means rather than at our offices.
Read more about how we have adapted hearings in the current pandemic.
If your case is referred to a hearing
The hearing is a chance for you, or your representative, to challenge the allegations made against you and to tell your side of the story.
Often, it will be in your best interests to attend the hearing because it will give you a chance to respond to evidence presented to the panel of adjudicators. You can read more about adjudicators.
Before a hearing
If your case is sent to a hearing, our legal services provider will prepare the case for the hearing. The work they will do before a hearing includes gathering information and taking witness statements from people that they believe have relevant information, such as the person who raised the concern.
Any witnesses asked to attend a hearing to give evidence by us will be asked questions by our legal representative. You, or your representative, will also get the chance to ask them questions. You can find more information in our hearings guidance for social workers.
For all hearings, you have the right to:
- legal representation, or to represent yourself
- independent representation, or to be represented by a friend or family member
- include your statement and other documents in support of your case
- call any witnesses, including expert witnesses, in support of your case
- the opportunity to meet the independent legal representative who will be helping the panel during the hearing
The legal representative will be able to explain the fitness to practise process to you but they will not be able to give you any legal advice.
Hearings are normally held at our office in Sheffield at 1 North Bank, Blonk Street, Sheffield, S3 8JY.
In exceptional circumstances, the hearing may be held at another location.
You can read more about attending a hearing.
If the panel decides that your fitness to practise is impaired, it will impose sanctions. The sanctions imposed by the panel will be the minimum necessary to protect the public.
You can read more about the factors a panel may consider when deciding whether a sanction is appropriate in sanctions guidance.
The panel may decide to:
- take no further action
- issue advice or a warning
- impose conditions on your practice for up to three years
- suspend your registration for up to three years
- remove you from the register
If you do not attend your hearing
If you tell us that you do not want to attend the hearing in advance, you can give us a written statement which the panel will take into account.
If your hearing is for an interim order, the panel may allow you to give evidence by other methods, for example by video link, Skype or in exceptional circumstances, by phone.
If you do not come to the hearing and the panel is satisfied that you have been given proper notice of the hearing date, they may decide to continue the hearing without you.
If you don't attend your hearing, you will be sent the panel’s decision in the post.
The panel’s decision should set out why they believe the outcome is appropriate and what evidence they have used to come to this decision. You should read this thoroughly and then contact your named case review officer who will be able to help you with any questions you may have.
If you feel that your hearing was unfair, please speak to the hearings officer you have been in contact with. You can find more information about the hearings team and how to contact them.
If your hearing outcome is appealable, the hearings team will let you know. If you believe you have grounds to make an appeal of the decision, then it is your right to do so. We would recommend that you to seek independent advice before making this decision as it can be very costly.
What we publish online
At least two weeks before the date of the hearing, we will publish hearing details and the allegations against you on our website.
After the hearing, outcomes are also published on the website and the online register. You can read more about what fitness to practise information we publish in our fitness to practise publications policy.
If you have any questions, please call us on 0808 196 2273 or email [email protected].
Last updated: 28 November 2019