Veterinary Practice Act 2005
Inquiry by Fitness to Practise Committee.
78.—(1) If a decision to proceed to hold an inquiry is notified to the chairperson of the Fitness to Practise Committee under section 77 (5) , that Committee shall hold the inquiry as soon as practicable.
(2) The following members of the Fitness to Practise Committee shall hear an inquiry—
( a) the chairperson, and
( b) 4 of its members, two of whom were appointed under paragraph (b) of section 71(2) , and two of whom were appointed under paragraph (c) of that section.
(3) The registered person to whom the inquiry relates shall be given notice, in writing, by the Fitness to Practise Committee, sent to the address of that person as stated in the Register or the Register of Veterinary Nurses, as appropriate, of the nature of the evidence proposed to be considered at the inquiry and that person, any person representing him or her, or any person whom they wish to call to give evidence in relation to the matter on his or her behalf shall be given the opportunity of being present at the inquiry.
(4) The Fitness to Practise Committee shall consider whether the registered person to whom the inquiry relates is fit to practise veterinary medicine on the basis of consideration by it of the following:
( a) evidence relating to the person to whom the inquiry relates, which shall be presented to it by or on behalf of the Registrar—
(i) of his or her professional misconduct,
(ii) that he or she is medically unfit to practise veterinary medicine by reason of physical or mental disability,
(iii) that his or her registration is erroneous due to a false or fraudulent declaration or misrepresentation, or
(iv) that he or she has failed to comply with any provision of this Act or any regulations made under it;
( b) evidence that the person to whom the inquiry relates, or his or her representative, may wish to present to the Fitness to Practise Committee, including oral evidence presented by any witness that they may wish to call;
( c) evidence that the Fitness to Practise Committee decides is appropriate to and will assist it with its inquiry, such as the testimony of a person who has expertise in an area of veterinary science, or any other area that is relevant to the inquiry, or the testimony of the applicant.
(5) In a case of alleged medical unfitness, the Fitness to Practise Committee may request expert medical evidence and may request that the person to whom the inquiry relates would attend for medical examination by a medical practitioner nominated by the Committee.
(6) For the purposes of an inquiry under this section, the Fitness to Practise Committee may—
( a) examine on oath, either by word of mouth or on written interrogatories, any person whom it considers relevant to the inquiry,
( b) administer oaths for the purposes of the examination, and
( c) record, in writing, the answers of a person so examined.
(7) For the purpose of an inquiry held under this section, the Fitness to Practise Committee shall have the powers, rights and privileges vested in the High Court or a judge of it on the hearing of an action in respect of—
( a) the enforcement of attendance of witnesses and their examination on oath or otherwise, and
( b) the compelling of production of documents,
and a summons signed by the Chairperson of the Fitness to Practise Committee or by such other member of that Committee as may be authorised by that Committee for that purpose may be substituted for and shall be equivalent to any formal procedure capable of being issued in an action for enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents.
(8) ( a) A person shall not—
(i) on being duly summoned to attend before the Fitness to Practise Committee, make default in attending,
(ii) being in attendance as a witness before the Fitness to Practise Committee—
(I) refuse to take an oath lawfully required by it to be taken,
(II) refuse to produce any document in his or her power or control lawfully required by that Committee to be produced by him or her,
(III) refuse to answer any question to which that Committee may lawfully require an answer,
(iii) being in attendance before the Fitness to Practise Committee do anything in relation to the inquiry which, if done in relation to proceedings before a Court by a witness in the Court, would be in contempt of such Court.
F25 [ ( b ) Subject to subsection (9) , a person who contravenes paragraph (a) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine. ]
( c) The High Court, on application to it in a summary manner by the Fitness to Practise Committee in relation to any matter referred to at subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii) of paragraph (a) , may make such order as it considers necessary.
(9) A witness whose evidence has been, is being or is to be given before the Fitness to Practise Committee is entitled to the same privileges and immunities as a witness in a Court.
(10) ( a) If the Fitness to Practise Committee requires the veterinary records of an animal that is under the care of a registered person to be produced for the purposes of an inquiry conducted by that Committee, such records shall not be made available to the Fitness to Practise Committee without the consent of the owner of the animal concerned unless the Committee specifically directs the registered person to produce such records.
F26 [ ( b ) In this subsection ‘ under the care of a registered person ’ has the same meaning as it has in Regulation 43 of the European Communities (Animal Remedies) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 ( S.I. No. 786 of 2007 ). ]