ESTATES GAZETTE 14th October 2016
RICS offers reprieves after admitting mistakes
Industry body "taking urgent steps" after disciplinary panel oversight
The RICS has been forced to apologise to hundreds of surveyors it has disciplined or struck off and offer them reviews of their cases.
The admission came after the organisation was challenged by barrister Marc Beaumont over using just two panel members, instead of three, to adjudicate on the disciplinary cases.
In a message to 317 members whom it had either disciplined or struck off for breaches of RICS rules, it has apologised and offered a fresh review with three panellists.
All were paper cases for which no physical hearing was required, according to the RICS, although it has not said how far back the mistake stretched.
Around 33 cases in which surveyors had not complied with the requirement to undertake 20 hours of continuing professional development were dealt with in April by two-person panels, which led to 19 expulsions.
Some of the other cases of two-person-panel hearings involved those who had received criminal records and been automatically struck off.
A spokesman said: “RICS would like to apologise for this oversight. We pride ourselves on our robust regulatory practices, and are taking urgent steps to ensure that this situation does not occur again.”
The RICS said it would not seek costs for a re-hearing.
Beaumont, of Windsor Chambers, who specialises in defending chartered surveyors and other professionals in disciplinary hearings, noticed the unlawfully constituted panels while defending a surveyor and complained to the RICS.
He argued that two-member panels should be void as they were in breach of RICS rules and in breach of the right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said: “Striking someone off is the professional equivalent of a death sentence. For this to be done unlawfully is terrible.
“This regulator should be held to account for what is at best systemic incompetence.”
Surveyors accredited by RICS have to undertake and record online a minimum of 20 hours per year of continuing professional development activities, including going to seminars, workshops or other training courses. If they do not, they face cautions and fines and are ultimately struck off. In 2015, 2,779 people around the world failed to comply with those rules. It is not known how many were struck off.