Practice review hearings aim to correct practice that has fallen below professional standards and achieve an acceptable resolution for both the member and the complainant.
The hearings are heard by a professional conduct panel, which will ask questions and explore the complaint.
The panel is made up of at least three independent people, which always includes a BACP member and a lay person. The lay person will not be a counsellor and will have no connection to BACP.
These are less formal hearings, held in private but recorded.
The complainant has the opportunity to explain their complaint in their own words and suggest questions for the panel to ask the member. They do not have to ask questions of, or answer questions from, the member directly.
If they wish, the complainant can bring a friend, relative or representative to support them during the hearing, or we can provide a professional supporter.
The member may be accompanied by a representative to support or speak on their behalf. They can also suggest questions for the panel to put to the complainant.
Both parties must get the permission of the panel in advance if they want to call witnesses.
The hearing may be suspended at any time if the member and complainant want to discuss and agree a resolution to the issue. The panel will consider any proposals, however it is not always possible to reach an agreed outcome.
If the panel upholds the complaint, it can require the member to:
- send a written apology to a relevant client or clients
- demonstrate a specific change or improvement in their practice
- undertake specific training
It cannot suspend or withdraw their BACP membership.
Details of hearing findings and sanctions are published in Notices.
Right of appeal
The member or the complainant may appeal the decision of a practice review panel on the grounds that:
- the findings were clearly wrong
- the sanction is disproportionate to the findings and unjust
- the findings and decision were affected by a procedural error
- the decision was affected by a factual error
- there is new evidence which was not available at the time of the hearing
The grounds for an appeal will be considered by an independent reviewer, who will decide whether the case should go before an Appeals Panel.