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Investigation process

Investigation process

Given the variety of complaints received, the investigation process is necessarily flexible to meet the needs of each investigation.  There are, however, some core tenets in every investigation.

Where the Commissioner determines to commence an investigation into a practitioner's conduct, Commissioner’s office will generally take some or all of the following steps:

  • notify the practitioner that there is to be an investigation;
  • provide the practitioner with the details of the alleged conduct being investigated and, if it is based on a complaint, a copy of the complaint;
  • provide the practitioner with the opportunity to respond to the allegations and to provide supporting documents;
  • provide a complainant with the practitioner's response or a summary of that response; and
  • in appropriate cases, request the client file.

Where the Commissioner considers it appropriate, the Commissioner or his investigators may:

  • enter premises under a search warrant issued by a Magistrate;
  • search and examine anything on the premises;
  • take possession of or seize material;
  • access computers and download information; and
  • request any person on the premises to answer questions and give assistance.

Each investigation must comply with the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, and that means that there may be multiple exchanges between the Commissioner's office and the practitioner and/or complainant.  On occasions it may take some time to complete an investigation.

If you are notified by the Commissioner that a complaint has been lodged against you, it is very important that you cooperate with the investigation

Cooperating includes:

  • following any reasonable instructions and requests from the Commissioner’s office;
  • providing all relevant documents to the Commissioner's office;
  • answering any questions from the Commissioner's office fully and honestly;
  • meeting any deadlines imposed by the Commissioner's office;
  • avoiding any conduct that may cause further conflict with the client; and
  • contacting the Commissioner’s office immediately with any questions or concerns.

Most importantly, communications from the Commissioner should not be ignored. It is an offence for those under investigation not to comply with the Commissioner’s requests for information and/or documents with maximum penalties of $50,000 or imprisonment for 1 year.  In addition, failing to respond to correspondence from the Commissioner can itself amount to misconduct.