One of the basic responsibilities of a self-regulatory body is to carry out investigations into the conduct of licensees and take disciplinary action when necessary.
The Commission’s investigation process has three main objectives:
- to gather all relevant information to enable informed decisions on the facts of the matter being investigated;
- to treat all parties courteously, fairly, impartially and in accordance with the rules of administrative law; and
- to gather information efficiently.
The Commission's standard investigation procedure is designed to maximize transparency, be fair to all parties and minimize any intrusive or disruptive effects of the investigation. Steps in this process are:
STEP ONE: The complainant agrees to cooperate with the Compliance Investigator by submitting a Permission to Share Form. Cooperating with the investigation means that you agree to answer the Investigator's questions, provide necessary information and appear as a witness if the matter goes to a hearing or prosecution.
Where matters are serious, such as fraud or breach of trust, the Registrar may elect to open an investigation in the absence of a complainant's cooperation.
STEP TWO: The licensee is provided written notification when an investigation has been opened. As part of this opening process, the licensee will receive a copy of the complaint and supporting documents, and is advised of the issues of concern to the Commission. The licensee is asked to respond to those issues in writing and may be directed to submit additional supporting documents.
STEP THREE: The complainant is provided with the licensee's response and is given the opportunity to comment in writing.
STEP FOUR: The licensee is provided with the complainant's response and given an opportunity to comment in writing.
Steps 2-4 are referred to as the exchange of statements. These steps provide all parties an opportunity to review information they may not have been able to examine when the event occurred. The exchange of statements may also clarify a licensee's actions and satisfy the complainant's concerns.
The Commission reserves the right to end the exchange of statements at any point (for example, if responses are unproductive or unduly delayed) and omit or obscure information in the exchange that may be of harm to other parties and is not integral to the matters under investigation. It is the investigator's responsibility to test all evidence.
The investigator may gather statements and documents from other sources in addition to the information provided by the complainant and licensee(s). Other sources may include the licensee's brokerage or broker.
INVESTIGATIONS & CONFIDENTIALITY
Information that is gathered by the Commission during an investigation is shared only as far as the investigation process requires it to be, or when required by a law.
In most cases, information is disclosed to the parties during the exchange of statements. Licensees receive a copy of the complaint that led to the investigation and the complainant receives a copy of the licensee's written response. In addition, certain information or documents may be shared with witnesses in order to confirm their accuracy or to obtain their statements and evidence in relation to that information.
If a matter that has been investigated proceeds to a hearing or a prosecution, all information gathered during the investigation must be disclosed to the licensee affected. In unlicensed practice investigations, the matter may be referred to the provincial Justice Department for prosecution, in which case the Commission must disclose all information.
Consumers must advise the Compliance Investigator immediately if personal information must be kept confidential. The Commission will make every reasonable attempt to comply with such requests provided the information is not integral to the matter under investigation (for example, new address, and marital status).
The Registrar’s decision is reviewed by the Complaints Review Committee (CRC), who may accept, reject or make recommendations to amend the decision to:
- recommend no charges;
- recommend charges through a settlement agreement. If the licensee accepts the proposed settlement agreement, they must satisfy the imposed penalty. If the licensee does not agree with the proposed settlement agreement, the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee; or
- refer the matter to the Discipline Committee.
At the discretion of the Registrar, a proposed Settlement Agreement stating the specific rule(s) breached by the licensee and the penalty/penalties imposed is issued. Settlement Agreements are returned to the Commission either accepting or rejecting the penalty/penalties imposed. Licensees who reject the Settlement Agreement also force the matter to be referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing, where a panel is appointed and a formal hearing will make a final decision on the matter. The CRC or the Registrar may refer also the matter to the Discipline Committee if the situation warrants.
More detailed information on the hearing panel and process.