Demystifying Hearing Panels
| February 24, 2011
RECA Panel Training
Yesterday in RECA’s Calgary offices, 18 industry members were undergoing annual training for disciplinary a nd other types of hearing and appeal panels.
The intensive, day-long training session is conducted by the RECA Hearings Committee and RECA Legal Services unit. The training assists in preparing hearing and appeal panel members for the various disciplinary hearings, consent matters, appeals and reviews they may participate in at RECA every year.
Disciplinary hearings are conducted by a three-person panel – comprised of members of council and the industry – and inquire into whether an industry member’s conduct is deserving of sanction under the Real Estate Act.
At a hearing, the panel considers evidence and makes its decision. Contested hearings can last several days and be very complex as the parties, including the industry member, has the right to present evidence and examine witnesses under oath.
The hearing panel has many of the powers of the Court for the trial of civil actions. Holding such power requires that procedures be formal and strict and that the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness be adhered to. Panels are required to act within the legislative authority set out in the Real Estate Act, and members are guided by administrative law procedure, Court decisions, prior RECA decisions and the Hearing and Appeal Panel Policy and Procedures Guideline.
Disciplinary hearings and appeals usually take place in RECA’s state-of-the-art hearing room. The room was constructed with extensive technological versatility in order to allow high-quality audio recording of proceedings. Evidence can also be presented through video-conferencing and multimedia presentations may also be made. The hearing room even houses its own, independent server which provides security from any tampering or outside influences.
Hearing Panels are Made Up of Your Industry Peers
It’s important for industry members to know that if a complaint against them ever progresses to the hearing process, a panel of their peers will make the decision about conduct deserving of sanction and whether to sanction or not.
Currently RECA has 32 members on its hearing and appeal roster. The real estate industry in Alberta is self-regulated by 12 RECA Council members (10 who are industry members and 2 who are public members), all of whom are hearing and appeal panel roster members. Former industry and public Council members are also eligible for appointment to hearing panels. The remaining hearing roster members are drawn from the industry and, in accordance with the Real Estate Act, in addition to Council, three appeal panel roster members are drawn from the Law Society of Alberta membership. RECA staff are not hearing or appeal panel members. Disciplinary decisions are ultimately made by industry members just like you.
You Could Sit On a Hearing or Appeal Panel
Section 36 of the Real Estate Act and the bylaws deals with appointing industry members to hearing and appeal panels. A roster of hearing panel members is appointed by Council. The Chair of the Hearings Committee appoints panel members from the roster to specific hearings and appeals.
Periodically, as openings occur the Hearings Committee will invite interested industry members to submit resumes for consideration for appointment to the panel roster. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, be sure to follow RECA on Twitter so you won’t miss an announcement.