Occupational regulation and discipline cases

In some occupations, regulatory authorities can apply to ACAT to discipline licensees or registered persons.

ACAT can make orders for occupational discipline against:

  • lawyers
  • health professionals covered by the national health practitioner law
  • veterinarians
  • security guards
  • real estate agents
  • salespersons
  • liquor licensees
  • some other licensees or registered persons.

Grounds for occupational discipline

ACAT’s power to decide applications for occupational discipline is set out in legislation, known as authorising laws.

ACAT can make orders for occupational discipline if satisfied that a ground for occupational discipline exists. For example if a licensee or registered person:

  • contravenes legislation about required professional conduct
  • fails to meet a required standard of practice.

Orders ACAT can make

There are a range of orders that ACAT can make, such as:

  • a reprimand
  • written undertakings
  • further training
  • giving a direction
  • a fine
  • putting a condition on a licence or registration
  • the suspension or cancellation of a person’s licence or registration for a period of time
  • disqualification from applying for a licence or registration for a period of time.

Reviewing ACT Government occupational decisions

ACAT also has the power to review some decisions made by a regulatory authority in relation to a person’s occupation. ACAT’s power to review a decision is set out in an authorising law.

If you are a licensee or registered person asking for a review of an occupational decision, see our information about how we review ACT Government decisions.

How to apply

A regulatory authority can seek to discipline a licensee or a registered person in certain circumstances, as outlined in the applicable authorising law.

To apply, you will need to:

Is there a fee?

There is a fee for an application for disciplinary action. If the applicant is a territory entity, there are separate arrangements in place for payment.

Names of the parties

If a disciplinary action application is made against a lawyer, you should name the lawyer in the application but ACAT will de-identify their name as required by section 423A of the Legal Profession Act 2006.

In other types of disciplinary cases, if you want to request that the name of the parties is de-identified, you will need to apply for non-disclosure or non-publication orders (see our information about public hearings and confidentiality).

Urgent applications

If you are asking for urgent orders, fill in the ‘interim or emergency orders sought’ section on your application for disciplinary action form [PDF 103KB]. You need to include details of the orders you are requesting.

If you have already lodged your application, you can complete an application for interim or other orders form [PDF 56KB]. You will need to set out what orders you are requesting and why.

It is important that you give as many details as possible when making a request for urgent orders. You can attach an extra page to the application if you need more space.

ACAT will give a copy of your application to the respondent and seek their views. ACAT may then immediately make the urgent orders or schedule the case for a short hearing to make a decision about urgent orders.

Will I have to pay costs?

Generally at ACAT each party bears their own costs. There are some circumstances where costs may be awarded. For example, under the national health practitioner law, ACAT can make orders for costs.

In disciplinary proceedings against a legal practitioner, ACAT must award costs against the legal practitioner in certain circumstances.

What to expect after an application has been made

After the application for disciplinary action is received, ACAT will determine the best way for the case to proceed.

ACAT requires the regulatory authority to serve the application on the respondent and provide proof of service by affidavit. ACAT will then send a letter to both parties about next steps.

Generally, ACAT will schedule the case for the first directions hearing a couple of weeks after an application is lodged, so there is time for the respondent to be served and get legal advice.

Responding to an application for disciplinary action

If you are the respondent, you should try to get legal advice before the first directions hearing. ACAT staff can provide you with procedural advice, but cannot give you legal advice.

You can have a lawyer represent you. You can also be represented by someone other than a lawyer if that person is authorised. Any authorisation should be provided to ACAT as soon as possible before you are required to attend ACAT.

At the first directions hearing, ACAT will usually direct the respondent to write a short ‘response’ to the application. There is no form to use. When responding to an application, make sure you:

  • identify any facts in the application that you agree or disagree with
  • set out the orders you want ACAT to make and on what basis (for example, a different outcome or dismiss the entire application)
  • set out whether you agree (admit) any contraventions or grounds set out in the application
  • specify any other facts you think are important.

Resolving your case

Even after an application has been lodged, it is a good idea to continue to see if an agreement can be reached.

Generally, ACAT will schedule the case for a first directions hearing in a couple of weeks, so there is time for the respondent to be served and get legal advice.

At the first directions hearing, directions will be made to prepare the case for a hearing. An ACAT Member will usually ask questions, such as:

  • Is the name and spelling of the applicant and respondent correct?
  • Are the details for any representative correct?
  • Does each party have an email address to send documents to?
  • What will be the factual or legal issues in the case?
  • Should a mediation or a conference be scheduled? If so, when?
  • How many witnesses will need to give evidence? Are there any expert witnesses?
  • Do any subpoenas need to be issued?
  • When should the case be scheduled for a hearing? How many days of hearing are needed? Are the parties and their witnesses available on these days?
  • Is anyone requesting a private hearing? Are non-disclosure or non-publication orders sought?

Generally the parties are directed to prepare witness statements and submissions for the final hearing and usually attend a final directions hearing about a week prior to the hearing.

At the hearing, ACAT will decide what the facts are and determine if there are grounds for occupational discipline. Sometimes the hearing will be in stages, on different days (for example, on day one ACAT will determine what happened; on day two, ACAT will decide how the law applies).

At the end of the hearing, the ACAT Member/s will either deliver a decision immediately, or reserve the decision to be given later.

Appeals

If you think ACAT made an error when it decided the application, you may appeal within 28 days of the decision.

More information

Find out about:

Glossary and terms

Glossary and terms

ACT Civil and Administrative TribunalA tribunal established under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. It may also be referred to as ACAT or Tribunal.

Adjourn (or adjournment)To suspend or postpone a preliminary conference, mediation or hearing and reschedule it for a future date.

Administrative reviewACAT has jurisdiction to review some administrative decisions made by the ACT Government. Find out about Review of ACT Government decisions.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)Also known as dispute resolution. This is a way of resolving disputes without a formal hearing. It may involve a preliminary conference or mediation. ADR is used to help parties resolve cases by agreement.

AnorMeans ‘and another’. This term is generally used to name parties to proceedings when there is more than one applicant or respondent.

Appeal TribunalA tribunal constituted under section 81 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal 2008 to review a decision of the tribunal (not all ACAT decisions are appealable at ACAT – you may need to go to the Supreme Court).

AppellantThe individual or company that appeals an ACAT decision.

Authorising lawsA law that says an application (including referrals) may be made to ACAT. An authorising law may also set out the powers ACAT has in a case. Also see ‘jurisdiction’.

ApplicantThe individual or company that brings a case to ACAT, usually by making an application.

Calling a witnessA party or their representative will ‘call a witness’ at an ACAT hearing when they ask a witness to give evidence.

CaseAlso known as a matter, dispute, application or referral. Cases come to ACAT when ACAT has jurisdiction (power) to make a decision.

Cross-examinationThe process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to ACAT.

Deliver a decisionAlso ‘handing down a decision’. This is giving a decision about an ACAT case. It may be done verbally or in writing (or both).

DirectionsInstructions that set out what each party must do (and when), often to prepare a case for hearing.

Directions hearingA short hearing where an ACAT Member or Registrar decides how to manage a case and what needs to be done before a hearing. Find out about directions hearings.

Ex parte orderAn order made by ACAT where one or more parties were not present.

Expert reportA written report from an expert that may be used as evidence.

Expert witnessA person with specialised knowledge based on their training, study or experience. An expert can give evidence at a hearing. Find out more about witness statements.

Final directions hearingSometimes ACAT will hold a final directions hearing prior to the final hearing of an application. The purpose is to make sure the case is ready to go to a hearing and give the parties a chance to ask questions about the hearing process.

Handed upGiving documents to an ACAT Member or Registrar in a hearing.

In chambersWhen ACAT considers something without holding a hearing.

Joined party (joined/joinder)A party who was not originally a party to the dispute but has later been added to the case.

JurisdictionACAT’s authority (power) to deal with, hear and decide applications (cases).

LeaveIf someone asks for leave, they are usually asking for permission to do something.

List (or listing)A schedule (or list) of cases to be heard at ACAT each day.

Listing noticeA letter or written document from ACAT that sets out when a conference, mediation or hearing is scheduled at ACAT.

MediationA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator (who is also an ACAT Member or Registrar). It is held under section 35 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008.

Non-publication and/or non-disclosure orderAlso called a ‘suppression order’. It is an order that requires certain information not to be published or disclosed. It is made under section 39 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. Find out about public hearings and confidentiality.

Notice to partiesA letter sent to the parties in a case that sets out the time, date and location for an ACAT conference, mediation or hearing.

Opening statementUsually means a statement made at the beginning of a hearing to outline the key points in the case. Sometimes parties are asked to give an opening statement at a mediation or preliminary conference.

Originating applicationAn application that starts an ACAT case.

Party or partiesAn individual or company directly involved in an ACAT case, for example an applicant or respondent. Find out how to identify and name parties.

Preliminary conferenceA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of an ACAT Member or Registrar. See section 33 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. ACAT has different types of preliminary conferences.

RegistryThe administrative section of ACAT that accepts documents lodged by parties, handles enquiries and provides support for case management.

RepresentativeA person who represents or advocates for an individual or company at a conference, mediation or hearing at ACAT. For example, a legal practitioner or an attorney appointed under a general power of attorney.

Reserved decisionWhen an ACAT Member or Registrar reserves a decision (at the end of a hearing), this means they will give their decision later, either verbally or in writing (sometimes both).

RespondentThe party (or parties) against whom orders or relief is sought.

Short service orderAn order that authorises a shorter time for service (than the time otherwise required).

Serve/serviceA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.

Statement of reasonsA document that explains why ACAT made an order in a case. It sets out the law relied on by an ACAT Member or Registrar and explains how the law was applied to the facts of the case. You can request a written statement of reasons within 14 days after an order is made. Find out about statement of reasons.

StayAn order for a particular action (or decision) to be put on hold or suspended for a period of time.

SubmissionA document that sets out your side of a case or dispute and the relevant law. It is presented to ACAT either in writing, verbally or both. Find out about submissions.

SubpoenaRequires a person to appear at ACAT to give evidence or provide documents (or both). Find out about subpoenas.

Substituted service orderAn order that says how a party is to be served with an application or other documents related to the proceedings. In a civil dispute or a rental dispute, an applicant will need to consider asking for a substituted service order if they do not have a physical address for the respondent. Find out about lodging and serving documents.

WitnessA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.