I have been notified that I have a ‘case to answer’ and/or received a case management form

If your regulator has decided that you have a case to answer this means that there will need to be a determination of the facts and whether or not you are currently impaired.

Based on the investigation that your regulator has carried out, the concerns will be formulated into allegations or charges, each of which you need to either admit or deny. The charges should be written in a way that makes it clear what the case against you is, so a charge might be broken down into several parts, or set out as several separate charges which culminate in a conclusion that your fitness to practise is impaired, for example because the charges amount to misconduct or a lack of competence.

You have the opportunity to provide your response to the charges and any additional information regarding the context of the allegations in a case management form. The information contained in this form will be available to the panel who decide your case, so it is important that you understand the implications of anything that you do wish to share with the regulator. You do have a duty to cooperate with your regulator, so simply ignoring the form or parts of it is not a particularly sensible approach. Getting legal advice at this stage can be helpful as it will help you to understand how the case against you is being constructed from a legal perspective and not just based on the alleged facts. Your lawyer should be able to identify the issues that you need to address and give you advice on how to approach the charges from both a legal and factual perspective, for example, whether or not they think the regulator has gathered sufficient evidence for one or more of the charges to be found proven. They can also suggest what evidence you could obtain in support of your defence, or how character references, training and appraisal records could demonstrate that you are not currently impaired.

Your regulator may also include details of the sanction that they will be seeking if the matter does go to a full hearing. It is not guaranteed that this will be the outcome as it will be for the panel to decide, but it does give you an indication of how serious the regulator thinks the charges are.

At this stage the regulator will generally set out the evidence it says supports its case and details of witnesses they will be calling to give evidence and the proposed format of any future hearing. They will also set out other ways in which the case could be resolved, if you think it would be beneficial. So where you admit most or all of the charges, the case might not need to go to a full hearing – it could be decided by a panel meeting and making a decision based on the documentary evidence it has. If all of the charges are admitted, they might only have to decide on impairment and any possible sanction.

The case management form is important because it helps the regulator to understand what your defence is going to be and whether or not they have an obligation to obtain further evidence or conduct additional investigations to make sure that the hearing is fair and that the evidence is sound. It’s important to note that your regulator is not obliged to investigate on your behalf and is not required to obtain any evidence just because it supports your case.