This procedure is based on and is intended to be guided by, the principles of promptness, fairness and consistency.
- Any person or body may submit a complaint to the Office of the Registrar concerning non-compliance with the provisions of the code by a member. A complaint must be in writing and specify the names of the member, the complainant and the nature of the writing and specify the names of the member, the complainant and the nature of the complaint. It may include relevant evidence. Anonymous complaints will not ordinarily be considered. The Committee may, however, on its own accord investigate the facts arising out of any anonymous complaint where there appears to be prima facie evidence of non-compliance by a member.
- The Registrar must within seven days of receiving a complaint inform the member concerned of the substance of the complaint.
- The member must response to the Registrar within seven days of being informed of the complaint.
- The Registrar must consider the member’s response or if the member does not respond he or she may begin a preliminary investigation to determine the facts. The member must be notified in writing within three days in this regard. The Registrar may decide to take no further action if he/she regards the complaint as frivolous, vexatious or unfounded. A decision of the Registrar in this regard must be confirmed by the Committee.
- If urgency demands, the Registrar in consultation with the Chairpersons may call a special meeting of the committee. The Registrar must table a summary of the preliminary investigation and a proposed procedure for further investigation, including an assessment on the need for a hearing.
- The Committee must agree to the procedure for further investigation.
- In the event of a hearing being held, the member and the complainant must be given a minimum of 10 days’ notice. At this stage any prospective witnesses must be notified.
- Hearings must be held when the facts are in dispute. The Committee may decide to call a hearing if the investigation of the Registrar is inconclusive or if the Registrar is unable to make a recommendation or if the Committee decides that a hearing should be held.
- The hearing will be on an inquisitorial basis and witnesses may be called.
- In each case the committee has the discretion regarding the weight to be attached to different forms of evidence and the extent of cross examination of witnesses.
- The member must be notified of his/her right to be represented by another member, to call material witnesses and have an interpreter present.
- The full committee may preside at the hearing. The Committee may appoint from its members a panel for the hearing provided that every political party is entitled to be present.
- The Registrar presents the evidence on behalf of the Committee.
- The Registrar may call witnesses.
- The proceedings will be recorded.
- The proceedings remain confidential until the Committee tables its report.
- The Committee will decide in each circumstance on issues related to costs for witnesses and complainants.
- The Committee must make a full and considered finding supported by reasons on the validity of any complaint at the conclusion of its investigations, which it must make public, together with any sanction imposed, and must, if the hearing was in closed session, also supply an adequate summary of the facts. The findings of the Committee must be reported to the relevant House of Parliament within seven days of a hearing or, if the House is in recess, within seven days of the date on which it resumes business.
- In conducting hearings, the Committee may adopt any procedures it deems reasonable, just and fair.
4. Reacting to Media Reports
- The Registrar on his/her own, subject to the approval of the Chairpersons, may initiate a preliminary investigation to assess the validity of allegations made in public.
- The member named in the media must be informed immediately of the allegations and of the preliminary investigation being conducted.
- Should the situation warrant it, the Committee will authorize a full investigation. If a full investigation is carried out the procedure to be followed is that which is detailed in section 2 above. to the party rather than their ability to be good public representatives.