The independence of regulators is often called into question with many wondering, how independent are disciplinary and arbitration panel’s when they are appointed, trained and retained largely at the discretion of the governing bodies? And, is there a case for regulators to make it clearer to those under investigation that the decision-making panel or tribunal is distinct from, and independent of, the investigating body?
How can the independence of regulators affect cases?
A regulators independence is particularly important when insight into any misconduct is a relevant matter for panels. Those under investigation may feel the need to defend their position if they think the adjudicators are effectively ‘out to get them’.
For example, in the healthcare industry doctors often feel the MPTS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) and the GMC (General Medical Council) are one and the same. They feel that they are being investigated and adjudged by the same body. Indeed, the MPTS is presently akin to a subsidiary of the GMC but they are not the same body.
This close relationship between the two can lead to oral and written evidence being given in a more defensive manner. Such evidence can then be taken to demonstrate a lack of insight on the part of the person under investigation, which ultimately can affect the adjudicators view on remediation and future risk.
In my view, the perceived or actual lack of clarity about the independence of the adjudicators from the investigators can therefore have a significant effect on individual cases.
Actual independence is not enough. Regulated professionals must be made aware of the independence of the regulators and their disciplinary panels.