The Case Examiners are two independent members of the Disciplinary and Interim Orders Tribunal (“DIOT”). The Case Examiners who deal with a case will be appointed by the Chair of the DIOT; one will be a lay member (non-lawyer) and the other will be a professional member (usually a trade mark attorney or a patent attorney). They meet remotely and none of the parties to the case (the regulated person, the complainant or IPReg) are present.
The Case Examiners’ role is to consider the complaint and the evidence obtained, and decide whether there is a case to answer in relation to the complaint. A ‘case to answer’ means determining whether the facts alleged against the regulated person, if proved, would support a finding of a breach of one of IPReg’s regulatory arrangements. They will not make findings of fact or determine whether the regulated person did breach one of the rules. Their role is to ensure that only cases which would amount to a finding of a breach of the rules, go forward to a full disciplinary hearing.
If the Case Examiners consider there is no case to answer, they will issue a written decision explaining why. The complainant and the regulated person will receive a copy of the decision but it will not otherwise be published.
If the Case Examiners consider that there is a case to answer, they can:
- invite the regulated person to admit the facts and issue a penalty (a warning, a reprimand, the giving of undertakings, a financial penalty or a suspension from the register); or
- refer the complaint to the DIOT for a full hearing.
An explanation of the different types of sanctions available is in our Disciplinary Sanctions guidance. The Case Examiners can also direct that the regulated person pays IPReg’s costs in bringing the case. The regulated person will have the opportunity to make submissions on whether they should pay IPReg’s costs an in what amount.
The Case Examiners can also refer the case back to IPReg for further investigation if they consider it is necessary in order to make a ‘case to answer’ decision or if there are other lines of enquiry that need to be made. They may also refer the case to the Interim Orders Tribunal if they think the facts alleged are so serious and the risk to the public is so great that the regulated person’s practice should be restricted until the disciplinary process is concluded.
There is no right to appeal against a decision made by the Case Examiners.