Case Management Tip Two: The Unrepresented Member/Registrant

Posted on April 14, 2015 by Dean Benard

Members/registrants appearing before a Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee may or may not be assisted by a representative, including legal counsel.  The unrepresented member/registrant appearing before a Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee presents unique considerations for these Committees that are otherwise not contemplated where the member/registrant is represented throughout the proceedings. Here are some of those unique considerations:

  • unrepresented members/registrants are not legally trained;

  • they also likely lack knowledge of hearings procedures and process;

  • the use of “legalese” (terms such as “plea inquiry,” “standard of proof” and “evidentiary burden”) may prove daunting for the unrepresented member/registrant.

Keeping in mind these unique considerations, a Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee is tasked with asking itself the following questions:

  • how does the Committee ensure the hearing is fair for both parties?

  • what sort of leeway might a Committee exercise with respect to unrepresented members/registrants?  

  • how many adjournment requests are reasonable?  

  • is the Committee sure that the member/registrant has considered seeking advice/representation from legal counsel or specifically waived that option?

Of course, ongoing training and better Committee resources will aid in a Committee’s ability to navigate these challenging questions.  

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