Complaints to Professional Conduct Committee.
57.— (1) Any person may complain to the Professional Conduct Committee (the “Committee”) concerning an action of a registered professional which is alleged to amount to professional misconduct or poor professional performance.
(2) Where the Committee is of the opinion that a prima facie case has not been established for an inquiry under subsection (5) with respect to the complaint, it shall so inform the complainant in writing and shall not proceed further.
(3) The Committee may, where it considers it appropriate to do so, request the complainant and the registered professional who is the subject of the complaint to seek resolution of the complaint by mediation before a person or persons appointed under rules made by the relevant registration body and if the complainant and the registered professional consent to such mediation being conducted, such mediation shall be conducted accordingly.
(4) If the mediation does not result in the resolution of the complaint, the Committee shall proceed to consider the complaint.
(5) The Committee may decide to hold an inquiry with respect to a complaint and where it does so the chairperson of the Committee shall notify the other members of the Committee and the complainant and the registered professional of the date, time and place for the hearing, and the notice under this subsection to the registered professional shall be sent by prepaid registered post to the address given in the register, shall contain details of the nature of the alleged complaint against the registered professional and shall inform the registered professional of his or her right to appear before the Committee and to be represented at the hearing by a person of his or her choice.
(6) For an inquiry under this section, the Committee has the powers, rights and privileges vested in the High Court or a judge thereof in hearing an action, for the purpose of—
(a) enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath or otherwise, and
(b) compelling the production of documents,
and, for such purposes, a summons signed by the chairperson of the Committee is equivalent to any formal procedure capable of being instituted in an action.
(7) Where a person summoned by the chairperson to attend before a hearing of the Committee or to produce a document—
(a) makes default in attending,
(b) fails or refuses to produce a document that is within that person’s power to produce, or
(c) refuses to take an oath or refuses to answer a question which the Committee may lawfully ask,
that person shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.
(8) If the contravention in respect of which a person is convicted of an offence under subsection (7) is continued after the conviction, the person shall be guilty of a further offence on every day on which the contravention continues and for each such offence the person shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €500.
(9) A witness at a hearing under this section has the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.
(10) On completion of an inquiry, the Committee shall produce a report embodying its findings, including the nature of the complaint, the evidence before it, such other matters relating to the registered professional as it thinks fit and its opinion respecting whether a case of professional misconduct or poor professional performance was established or not.
(11) The findings of the Committee on any matter referred to it shall not be made public, without the consent of the person who has been the subject of the inquiry, unless the Committee has found the person to be guilty of professional misconduct or poor professional performance.
(12) Where the Committee has not found the registered professional guilty of professional misconduct or poor professional performance it shall so notify the complainant and inform the complainant of his or her right of appeal to the Appeals Board against its finding.