SACIA Disciplinary Procedure
This document outlines the disciplinary procedures to be followed when any SACIA member is alleged to have transgressed either the SACIA Business Code or the SACIA Code of Professional Conduct. A Complaint or allegation of improper conduct can be made by any person and will be received, investigated and resolved according to these procedures.
a) All SACIA members have agreed to display responsible, professional, and socially acceptable behaviour in executing their duties.
b) All corporate members of SACIA have agreed to adhere to the SACIA Business Code. In contrast, individual members of SACIA have agreed to be bound by the SACIA Code of Professional Conduct. Both these documents are available for download from the SACIA website at www.sacia.org.za
c) When it is alleged that a SACIA member has failed to adhere to the Codes mentioned above, reasonable steps must be taken to protect the profession and adhere to the standards required by the SACIA Board.
d) Where it is alleged that a SACIA member has contravened either the Business Code or the SACIA Code of Professional Conduct, it is SACIA policy to evaluate and dispose of such allegation in terms of this Policy and Procedure.
e) The disciplinary action is designed to be substantively as well as procedurally fair. The out come of a disciplinary hearing will be considered substantively fair when it is proportional to the offence committed, mitigation and aggravating circumstances were considered, and it was based on the evidence presented to the Disciplinary Council.
f) If the matter is subject to legal proceedings, then the Association shall take no further action until those proceedings are concluded, and the outcome made known.
g) It is in everyone's interest for disputes and allegations of professional misconduct to be resolved expeditiously, fairly and cost-effectively. In instances where the dispute goes beyond an allegation of misconduct, the parties are encouraged to explore mediation before any disciplinary action is considered.
h) The Board of Directors of SACIA assemble the Disciplinary Council, chaired by the Association's General Counsel. The Disciplinary Council will comprise at least three members. The Disciplinary Council is not a standing committee, and members are appointed on a case-by-case basis.
i) A Member will not be subjected to a charge of misconduct unless there are clear indications of wrongdoing, contraventions or offences.
j) If, in the event of investigating an allegation of unprofessional conduct, the Executive Director or Disciplinary Council uncovers evidence of illegal activity, such evidence will be provided to the relevant authorities.
a) Procedural Fairness: This is achieved by applying the disciplinary steps and ensuring fairness in the process towards all involved.
b) Substantive Fairness: This is achieved by measuring member's conduct against the SACIA Business Code, the SACIA Code of Professional Conduct and applicable legislation, thereby ensuring that sanctions are only implemented where contraventions occurred.
c) A Complaint is a written statement from an identified individual or entity alleging conduct which, if proven, would constitute a violation of the SACIA Business Code or the SACIA Code of Professional Conduct.
d) Board of Directors: Those members elected to the SACIA Board from time to time, including those co-opted to any Board Committee.
e) General Counsel: a practising attorney contracted to advise and represent SACIA on a broad range of issues
f) Disciplinary Council: This Board Committee comprises the General Counsel and at least two suitably qualified individuals who are co-opted for this purpose.
g) Moral turpitude: Conduct that is considered contrary to community standards, dishonest behaviour or sound morals of society.
3. The Disciplinary Process
a) If a Complaint is brought against a Member, the Executive Director of SACIA will initiate the Complaint procedure described below. The SACIA Board may also trigger a Complaint on its authority if it otherwise receives credible evidence that a Member has committed a violation.
b) The following disciplinary procedures will apply in handling Complaints and cases of alleged misconduct:
i. Persons wishing to file a complaint against a member of SACIA may do so by sending a written statement of their complaint to the attention of the SACIA Executive Director.
ii. All Complaints must be in writing. There is no specific form the complaint must take, and a letter or email is acceptable. The complainant should include a full explanation of the alleged misconduct, supported by any evidence that they may have to support the allegations.
iii. If a Complaint is made orally and the person that made the report would like to stay anonymous, such complaints must be put in writing by the person who received it. Only once it has been reduced to writing shall it be investigated further.
c) The Executive Director will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and discern whether it is valid or not.
d) If the Executive Director discerns the complaint to be invalid, he will notify the complainant, who will be provided with an opportunity to appeal this decision to the SACIA Board chair.
e) If the Executive Director discerns the complaint to be valid, he will approach the accused member for their defence and determine whether the complaint reflects misconduct – and whether such misconduct is of a minor or serious nature.
f) If the complaint is deemed serious, the Executive Director will contact both the accused and complainant and encourage them to attend a pre-mediation meeting before any disciplinary action is considered.
g) If the parties agree to use mediation to address the dispute or allegation, a suitably qualified mediator will be appointed. No further action will be taken pending the outcome of the mediation process. The appointed mediator will then prepare a report and recommend a future course of action.
h) If the parties decide not to use mediation, additional investigation may be done to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for further action.
i) To conduct the investigation, the Executive Director may:
i. Appoint an independent investigator to assist in conducting an investigation.
ii. require the complainant to supply additional information;
iii. independently seek out information to support or refute the complainant's allegations;
iv. Take any other steps deemed necessary to determine if there is credible evidence of misconduct.
j) If the Executive Director recognises that the complaint amounts to minor misconduct, they have the authority to issue a written warning to the accused member.
k) Once the Executive Director has conducted an investigation, they will convene a Disciplinary Council and circulate copies of the original complaint and the member's response and all other relevant documentation to the members of this Council.
l) The Disciplinary Council will consider the complaint and decide whether/what action and/or response is required.
m) The Chairman of the SACIA Board will remain independent of the process to provide the alleged transgressor with an avenue of appeal should this be required.
n) If no further action is warranted, the Council will recommend to the Board that the complaint is dismissed. If the recommendation is accepted, the Executive Director will promptly advise the complainant and the individual named in the complaint.
o) If the Disciplinary Council determines that there is credible evidence of a possible violation, or where there is a decision by the SACIA Disciplinary Council to continue with the complaint, the Council will conduct a disciplinary hearing. General Counsel shall promptly notify the individual named in the complaint by email (sent to the individual's last addresses known to the Association). The notice of disciplinary hearing will include details of the complaint, copies of the evidence in support thereof and the procedure for handling the complaint and the possible consequences.
p) If the General Counsel has a conflict of interest in the case or there is the appearance of a conflict of interest, the General Counsel shall recuse them self from the case and shall be replaced by a member of the SACIA Board, or by an Independent Counsel appointed by the Board. If an Independent Counsel is appointed, they will operate in the same capacity as the General Counsel under these SACIA Disciplinary Procedures.
4. Formal Hearing
a) If the General Counsel or Disciplinary Council deem it necessary to conduct a formal hearing, the Board shall be advised accordingly. The hearing will be held at a location and time determined by the General Counsel. Notice of the hearing shall be communicated to the individual named in the complaint at least 14 days before the hearing by email.
b) Should the accused member be unable to attend the hearing at the appointed time, the General Counsel shall consider a postponement of the hearing.
c) In cases where the accused member does not appear at the disciplinary hearing without proper reason, the hearing will be conducted in absentia, as if the member was present at the disciplinary hearing.
d) Evidence shall be presented, and the accused member may respond to the complaint and question the evidence presented. The accused member shall be entitled to scrutinise all evidence and to cross‐examine all witnesses. The accused member shall be entitled to submit evidence which the Council may scrutinise. In addition, any witnesses called by the accused member may be cross-examined by the Council.
e) The accused member will have a right to legal representation (at own cost) or be represented by a fellow member of SACIA. Should a member represent any other member in a disciplinary hearing, they must recuse themselves from any Board or Committee meetings where the matter is considered or discussed.
f) The hearing proceedings will be recorded.
5. Finding of the Disciplinary Council
The General Counsel will prepare a recommendation to the SACIA Board within 14 days of completion of the hearing. The letter of recommendation shall include a complete statement of the factual findings and conclusions reached, as well as a recommendation on any action to be taken.
a) When the Board receives the recommendation letter from the General Counsel, it will decide on the action, if any, to be taken. The procedures for such examination will be at the discretion of the Board as it may deem appropriate.
b) The Board may order revocation or suspension of membership, probation, public or private reprimand, or any other disciplinary, remedial, or corrective action it deems appropriate. The decision of the Board shall become effective at the time it is made.
7. Appeal Procedure
a) Any decision by the Board will be promptly communicated to the General Counsel, who will notify the Member and the Complainant of the Board's decision without undue delay.
b) The transgressor shall advise the SACIA Board Chairman in writing within 48 hours after the sanction was handed down in the disciplinary hearing that an intention to appeal will be brought forward.
c) In the event of an appeal, the Chairman is mandated to appoint a competent, independent person to Chair such an appeal process, if deemed necessary.
d) No new evidence may be presented during the Appeal hearing, and the process will be determined only through a review of the documents and evidence presented during the Disciplinary hearing.
e) The SACIA Chairman will inform the Appellant of the outcome within 21 days after the finalisation of the appeal process.
8. Cases not Requiring a disciplinary hearing
If a member is found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction of a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year, a felony, or any crime involving moral turpitude, a complaint against that member may be presented directly to the Board, except that the General Counsel shall conduct such evaluation as is necessary to verify that the member was found guilty of such a crime. In such circumstances, the Board may expel the member without a hearing, suspend the member pending an investigation of the complaint, or take any other disciplinary, remedial, or corrective action it deems appropriate.
9. Status Reports
The General Counsel shall provide the Board with a written status report at each of the Board's meetings. The report shall include a list of Complaints currently pending and the current status of the complaint. The Board may request the General Counsel to provide an interim status report at any time, as deemed necessary.
10. Retention of Records
The Executive Director will retain confidentially and securely all pertinent records regarding the complaint. All documents about disciplinary investigations are the property of the Association.
Other than the publication of the Boards' decision, no disclosure or dissemination of any documents shall be made except by a specific directive from the Board of Directors.