For a long time, I have been uncomfortable with the public naming of individuals who are subject to the IFoA disciplinary process, both in the listings of upcoming hearings and in the publication of determinations from the Adjudication and Determinations Panel meetings.
The long-term consequences of public naming can be disproportionately penal. I recognise the public interest that ‘justice needs to be seen to be done’, but this needs to be balanced with an individual’s right to privacy and ability to move forward in their career with confidence.
The IFoA’s current policy is generally to remove cases regarding misconduct from its website after five years. I think this is too long – and with social media, it is almost impossible to completely remove any data from the public record. The ease of internet searching and the timeless memory of the internet can lead to an individual suffering from long-term mental stress due to the perpetual risk of gossip, and make it difficult for them to feel secure in developing their career. For the vast majority of cases, I do not think there is any public interest served by naming the individual (an exception may be if their conduct constituted criminal misconduct).
Aside from the public interest, it seems to me there are two other key purposes of publishing the outcomes:
- Learning for others. This is an important and helpful aspect of the process. We can all learn from the mistakes of others (and ourselves). However, it is not necessary for the relevant individuals to be named. This purpose could be achieved by simply publishing the case details on an anonymised basis. This has long been the approach used by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
- Referencing. Often, a third party will have a legitimate interest in the disciplinary record of an individual (for example before engaging them to do some work). This could be achieved by the IFoA maintaining a confidential database of cases but allowing third parties to enquire about an individual member’s record. This is the approach used by DVLA for driving convictions (for example when you want to hire a car).
I would urge the IFoA to start with the premise that individuals subject to disciplinary process should not be named. If the Adjudication or Disciplinary Panel feels that it is appropriate to name an individual, this should be referred to a separate IFoA body that weighs up the public interest of doing so versus the right to privacy of, and impact on, the individual.
FIAm2 September 2022