Our last issue featured a letter from Peter Shellswell, who wrote in to share his concerns over certain aspects of the IFoA’s disciplinary process (‘A right to move on’, October 2022). Here, the IFoA responds.
Dear Mr Shellswell,
Thank you for your letter to the editor in relation to the public naming of individuals who are subject to the IFoA’s disciplinary process.
We appreciate that being subject to a disciplinary investigation is stressful, and that for some members the publication of adverse findings is more concerning than any sanction imposed. The IFoA aims to support members through the disciplinary process by progressing cases as efficiently as possible, allowing individuals sufficient time to respond to the allegations against them, and being available to answer questions about the disciplinary process and the options available.
The IFoA also operates a Capacity for Membership process as an alternative to the Disciplinary Scheme, which is intended to support members who are experiencing significant issues of health that are impacting their ability to hold membership of the IFoA.
In disciplinary proceedings, the rights of the individual subject to an allegation must be weighed against the public interest. Openness and transparency are fundamental to the
IFoA’s disciplinary processes. Publication of determinations allows members and the public to understand how and when disciplinary action has been taken by the IFoA. Publishing named determinations provides protection for the public by allowing easy access to recent adverse disciplinary decisions against members and enables the public to make informed decisions.
In addition, holding hearings in public and publishing determinations ensures fairness in the disciplinary process and provides reassurance that the IFoA has acted appropriately, proportionately and consistently. This helps to protect and maintain public confidence in our processes and the profession.
The IFoA’s Disciplinary Committee has published guidance to help panels determine whether to publish a notice of hearing or determination, what information should be published and how long for. Respondents’ names are not published in all cases – for example, if an allegation is dismissed by the Adjudication Panel, details, including the name, will remain confidential. In other circumstances, while there is a presumption in favour of publication for the reasons given, it is open to the panel to anonymise, redact or direct that a determination should not be published, for example where the consequences of publication on an individual outweigh the duty to keep the public informed. The issue is considered carefully in each case, and it is open to the respondent to make submissions on this point to the panel. This enables the individual’s rights to be weighed against the need to protect the public and confidence in the profession.
Thank you again for sharing your views on this matter. We really value all feedback on the IFoA’s disciplinary processes and will continue to keep the Disciplinary Scheme under review to ensure that it meets best practice and follows the principles of better regulation.
Jenny Higgins, head of disciplinary investigations