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Home > Concerns > Hearings and decisions > At the hearing

At the hearing

link Arriving at the venue
link Access for members of the public/ observers/ press
link Who attends the hearing?
link Giving evidence
link Adjournments
link Practice notes


Arriving at the venue

On arrival at our dedicated offices, please give your name and the name of the case you are involved in to reception. There will be more than one hearing taking place on the day.

On arrival at other venues please ask at reception for directions to the HCPC hearing and you will be directed to the appropriate room.

You should arrive in good time for the hearing. The Hearings Officer (who makes sure the hearing runs smoothly) will meet and welcome you and explain the venue’s facilities.

If you are a member of the public or Press you will be directed to the hearing room shortly before the start time and you should take a seat at the back of the room. Please be quiet during proceedings, as noise can affect those involved in the hearing.

Please make sure you note where the fire escapes are. In the event of an evacuation HCPC hearings staff will direct you to the closest exit.




Access for members of the public / observers / press

If you wish to observe a hearing please let us know in advance so we can check to see if there is room available.

Please email ftphearings@hcpc-uk.org or telephone 44 (0)20 7840 9817 to book a place.

Hearings can occasionally be cancelled at late notice so it is best to check the hearing is still going ahead as planned the day before you are due to attend, telephone 44 (0)20 7840 9817.



Hearings are usually heard in public. Sometimes part or all of hearings are held in private due to confidential information involved, e.g. health considerations. All observers will be asked to leave the room during times when the hearing is being held in private. Observers will also be asked to leave the room and wait in a public area whilst the panel are making decisions so that participants in the hearing have a space to talk in private. Even if a panel holds a hearing in private, any decisions the panel makes and the reasons for them still need to be read out in public.

Please ensure you have turned off any mobile telephone before proceedings start. If you need to leave the room during proceedings, please do so as quietly as possible so as not to disturb proceedings. If necessary panels have the power to eject observers who disturb proceedings.

Journalists should contact our Communications department with any queries by telephone on 44 (0)20 7840 9806 or email press@hcpc-uk.org.

Journalist questions about hearings can be found here.



Who attends the hearing?

A plan of the hearing room is shown below.



    1. Panel
    2. Witness
    3. Transcription writer
    4. Registrant and representative (if they attend)
    5. Presenting officer
    6. Hearings officer
    7. Legal assessor

The panel considering the case will usually be made up of a:

  • registrant from the same profession as the person being investigated;
  • lay person who is not registered with us; and
  • chairperson who leads the hearing and speaks for the panel.

The panel will usually go to a separate room to make any decisions about the case. For each decision they make, they will give reasons that they will read out in public. An independent legal assessor (an experienced lawyer) will also be at the hearing, and they will give advice on law and procedure to the panel and other people taking part in the hearing. A Hearings Officer will ensure proceedings run smoothly. A transcript writer takes notes of everything that has been said at the hearing.

The registrant being investigated is invited to go to the hearing, but they can choose not to. If the registrant does not go to the hearing, the case will usually take place without them if the panel are satisfied that we have followed all requirements to tell them about the hearing and doing so is fair. A registrant may ask a representative to attend on their behalf. If a registrant does not attend, the panel will not take any message from this. A practice note on ‘unrepresented parties’ is available below:

The presenting officer will introduce the evidence against the registrant to the panel. The presenting officer’s role is to represent the HCPC and put the case to the panel. They will also examine and cross-examine witnesses and show how the HCPC can prove its case.



Giving evidence

‘Evidence’ is the information produced at a hearing, and can be given by the registrant, witnesses, on paper, or in another way such as by video. Those giving evidence will be asked to stand while they swear on a holy book or confirm that they promise to tell the truth during your evidence. They will be given an oath or affirmation card to read from and can then sit down and will start to give evidence.

If the registrant comes to the hearing, they, or their representative can ask questions (cross-examine) witnesses about evidence that has been given. If allegations are of a sexual nature and the witness is the alleged victim of the allegations, the registrant will not able to cross-examine them directly without their permission. The registrant may have a representative who will ask questions on their behalf.

The registrant will be asked questions (cross examined) about their evidence by the HCPC Presenting Officer.

Panel members may also ask questions about any of the evidence they have heard.

Giving evidence can be an anxious time. Anyone giving evidence should take time to think about questions. If they do not understand a question or know the answer, they should tell the panel. When giving evidence people should speak in a clear voice and direct their answers to the panel. They should try to talk slowly, so that people listening have an opportunity to note down what they say.



Adjournments

Hearings may have to adjourn (break) from time to time in order to obtain additional evidence or in case of illness or because proceedings have overrun the days allotted to it due to unforeseen circumstances. Wherever possible the HCPC tries to avoid adjournments for the sake of all parties involved. It is important that witnesses who are part way through their evidence must not talk to anyone about the case or about their evidence during any times when the hearing is not being held or there is a longer adjournment, as this could affect the case. Dates for adjourned hearings to resume will be sent out to all parties as soon as possible.

The HCPC’s practice note on Postponements and Adjournments provides more detail about when hearings may be adjourned in advance of proceedings starting.

If you are a registrant in a hearing and wish to request a postponement or adjournment, please email the hearings team at ftphearings@hcpc-uk.org or telephone 44 (0)20 7840 9817.

If hearings arrangements are ever altered, all parties are kept informed of any changes.



Practice notes

HCPC's Statutory Fitness to Practice Committees have issued a number of practice notes for the guidance of Panels and to assist those appearing before them. Click here to view the document list.



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