Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005

Powers and protections relating to witnesses and evidence.

59

59.—(1) For the purposes of an inquiry under this Part, a committee of inquiry has all the powers, rights and privileges that are vested in the Court or a judge of the Court on the occasion of an action and that relate to—

(a) enforcing the attendance of witnesses,

(b) examining witnesses on oath or otherwise, and

(c) compelling the production of records.

(2) A summons issued by the chairperson of a committee of inquiry or by such other member of that committee as may be authorised by it for the purpose of the inquiry may be substituted for and is the equivalent of any formal process capable of being issued in an action for enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of records.

(3) Subsection (2) is not to be taken to limit the generality of subsection (1).

(4) Subject to any rules in force under section 22 and to the necessity of observing fair procedures, a committee of inquiry may receive evidence given—

(a) orally before the committee,

(b) by affidavit, or

(c) as otherwise allowed by those rules, including by means of a live-video link, a video recording, a sound recording or any other mode of transmission.

(5) A witness before a committee of inquiry is entitled to the same immunities and privileges as a witness before the Court.

(6) A person is guilty of an offence if he or she—

(a) having been duly summoned to attend before a committee of inquiry fails without reasonable excuse to attend at the time and place indicated on the summons,

(b) while attending as a witness before a committee of inquiry refuses to—

(i) take an oath lawfully required by the committee to be taken,

(ii) produce any record in the person's power or control that he or she is lawfully required by the committee to produce, or

(iii) answer any question that he or she is lawfully required by the committee to answer,

or

(c) while attending before a committee of inquiry does anything that, if the committee were a court of law having power to punish for contempt, would be contempt of court.

F101[(7) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.]

(8) If a person fails to comply with a summons to attend before a committee of inquiry or refuses, while attending as a witness before a committee of inquiry, to do any thing referred to in subsection (6)(b) that he or she is lawfully required by the committee to do, the Court, on application by the Council, may—

(a) by order require the person to attend before the committee or to do the thing that he or she refused to do, as the case may be, and

(b) make such interim or interlocutory orders as it considers necessary for that purpose.

(9) Neither an application for an order under subsection (8) nor the making of such order precludes proceedings being brought for an offence under subsection (6)(a) or (b) in relation to a person on whose failure or refusal the application or order was based.

Annotations

Amendments:

F101

Substituted (1.02.2013) by Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Act 2012 (46/2012), s. 11, S.I. No. 23 of 2013. A class A fine means a fine not greater than €5,000, as provided (4.01.2011) by Fines Act 2010 (8/2010), ss. 3, 4(1), S.I. No. 662 of 2010.

Editorial Notes:

E156

Power pursuant to subs. (4) exercised (14.07.2016) by Health And Social Care Professionals Council Rule Regarding the Receiving and Recording of Evidence by a Committee of Inquiry 2016 (S.I. No. 371 of 2016), in effect as per art. 1(2).