Suki Kaur Gill is the Head of Investigations at RICS. She is responsible for enabling RICS to meet its obligations to deliver effective self-regulation by delivering high quality, transparent and robust regulatory investigations. She is also responsible for making sure decisions are made in compliance with RICS' regulatory framework.
The Investigation Process
Suki Gill and her team deal and investigate concerns raised with them about their regulated members and firms. These investigations are evidence-based, making sure they follow a fair process for everybody involved.
“If a concern is raised by anyone,” she explains, “it is then assessed by one of our regulatory support teams. They may request further information to decide whether or not the case will be investigated. A lot of the concerns which are received in RICS, are actually closed right at the front door. At the first stage, we always ask if the client has gone through the firm's complaints handling procedure.”
“Depending on the nature of the concern that's been reported, we would reach out to the member and ask for further information,” she continues. “If there are repeat patterns of behaviour, let's say over a six month period about the same issue, we would most likely reach out to the member and provide advice. We've got our new team called Support and Assurance Team, and their primary role is to engage with the profession and to bring firms and members back into compliance. That kind of support mechanism is quite new to RICS.”
The Speaking Up Policy
Suki continues talking about the speaking up policy. As she explains, the concerns can also be raised anonymously.
“There's a speaking up guidance on our website, which makes clear how you can report information or concerns to RICS. If you are in a position where you do see or feel that something is wrong, raise it through your internal process first. Every firm should have some sort of process for raising concerns or internal complaints. However, if something is very serious and you think it needs raising a concern with RICS, then also make a report to RICS.”
“In terms of raising allegations with the member, it's about making sure that the member is given an opportunity to provide a response,” she continues. “A lot of the cases which we do investigate end up being closed and there’s a very small proportion of cases which go before a disciplinary panel. There are various outcomes which could happen as a result of our investigation, it could be closed, it could be closed with advice, it could impose a caution on the member, or we could agree to a regulatory compliance order, called RCO.”
As Suki mentions, a small percentage of cases do end up before the disciplinary panel. She explains how this process works and gives advice on preventing it.
“If a case is referred to a disciplinary panel, it is then given to a lawyer who will get in touch with the member and explain the process. The lawyer will then progress the case before the disciplinary panel. The member will then be asked to make further representations and be provided with the evidence that we are going to be relying on before the disciplinary panel. But I just want to reassure you, the member is engaged throughout the whole process.”
“It's worthwhile noting,” she adds, “that we don't always get the outcome that we think we're going to get at the tribunal. So if we send a case to a tribunal, we don't have 100% of the outcome, and I think that shows that it is completely independent. I would say to members, please engage with the process because sometimes it doesn't even have to get as far as the disciplinary panel. Some cases end up going towards punitive action because the member just hasn't cooperated and engaged.”
“Walk in the shoes of your client. Ask yourself, are you 100% satisfied that you dealt with it in the best way that you possibly could?,” Suki advises.