What happens if I am called as a Witness by CORU?
How will I know I have to give evidence?
You will be contacted by CORU.
You will be asked to make a statement and to allow you to do this CORU will arrange an appointment with you.
You will be given an opportunity to see your statement written down. If you wish to amend your statement this is the appropriate time to do so.
Once you are satisfied with the statement you will be asked to sign it.
If you are asked to give evidence at a hearing before the Committee of Inquiry you will be given a chance to look at your statement beforehand.
Who else will see my statement?
The registrant or the representative for the registrant will be given a copy of your statement. They will also be given a copy of your draft statement if you amended it before you signed it.
The Registrar may use a representative to carry out this function.
Why is it important to give evidence if asked to do so?
Giving evidence is very important as it helps the Committee of Inquiry hearing a complaint reach a decision.
Your information will assist the Committee of Inquiry in deciding if the allegation made against the registrant is true and whether the registrant's behaviour amounted to the grounds set out against the registrant.
It is essential that all of your evidence is based on fact. It must not be based on your opinion about the allegation in question.
Who can I talk to about my evidence?
You must not discuss your evidence with other witnesses. If you have any questions you should contact the representative of the Registrar or a member of the Fitness to Practise team in CORU.
Do I have to give evidence at the hearing?
Yes. The Committees of Inquiry have the same powers as a Court. If you do not attend, the Committee can issue a summons. The summons will require you by law to attend the hearing. If you still refuse to attend, it is a criminal offence and if convicted you may be fined.
Are hearings in public or private?
Professional Conduct Committee hearings are normally held in public. This means that members of the public, including journalists, can attend.
A Professional Conduct Committee hearing may be held in private:
- if requested by the registrant or the complainant, and
- if the Committee is satisfied that it would be appropriate given the circumstances.
A witness attending the hearing to give evidence can also apply to hold some of the hearing in private.
Health Committee hearings are normally held in private. A registrant or the complainant can request that all or part of the hearing be held in public. If the Committee is satisfied that it would be appropriate given the circumstances they can approve the request.
Will my evidence be recorded?
A stenographer will also be present to record all evidence. He or she can produce a written record of everything said throughout the hearing.
Will I meet the other witnesses or the registrant who is the subject of the complaint?
It is possible that you will meet other people involved in the complaint on the day of the hearing. A number of people will be attending the hearing. This will include other witnesses, the registrant who is the subject of the complaint and his or her legal representative.
If you have any concerns in this regard you should inform CORU in advance of the hearing date.
Who else will be at the hearing?
- The representative of the Registrar (he or she presents the allegations against the registrant and calls witnesses).
- The registrant.
- The representative of the registrant (if he or she is represented at the hearing). This person will speak on behalf of the registrant and will be allowed to ask the witnesses questions.
- A legal advisor (known as a legal assessor) will sit with the Committee. The role of the Legal Assessor is to make sure that the law and fair procedure is followed in the hearing. The Legal Assessor plays no part in the decision making process.
- The stenographer, who records the evidence, will also be present at the hearing.
If the hearing is being held in public then members of the public may attend, and there may also be members of the media present.
What happens when I give evidence?
CORU will contact you with the details of where you have to go and what time you have to attend.
If you wish to, and if it's possible, you will be given a chance to view the room before the hearing so you will be comfortable in your surroundings on the day.
On the day when you arrive, you will be asked to wait in a witness room until it is your turn to give evidence.
When the Committee is ready to hear your evidence you will be called into the hearing room and seated at the witness table.
You will be asked to swear an oath (or make an affirmation) to confirm the truth of your evidence.
You will then be asked by the representative of the Registrar to give your information to the Committee and he or she may ask you some questions.
You may then be asked questions by the representative of the Registrant or by members of the Committee.
If at any time when you are giving evidence you need to take a break please ask the Chairperson of the Committee.
Sometimes a witness may be asked to step out of the hearing room and wait in the witness room. If that happens, someone from CORU will let you know when you can step back into the hearing room or when you can leave.
It is important on the day itself that you do not discuss the case with other people during any break in the hearing.
Will I have my witness statement with me when I am giving evidence?
No. But if you wish to read it before you are called to give evidence, a copy will be provided to you.
Will I have to attend on more than one day?
Sometimes hearings take longer than anticipated. If so, you may be asked to come back on another day.
It is important that you do not speak to anyone about your evidence during this time.
Can I stay to listen to the other witnesses?
Once you are finished giving your evidence and if the hearing is in public, you will be free to stay in the public area of the hearing room.
If the hearing is not in public, then you will have to ask the Committee for permission to stay. Please mention this before the hearing to the representative of the Registrar.