Since 2001, the institute’s professional conduct complaint and investigation process has operated under the Rules for the Professional Conduct Process. These rules have been modified over the years, including substantial changes in 2013 after the Architects Act was amended to authorize consensual resolution.
The Bylaw Review Committee is recommending that the institute’s core complaint and investigation process be elevated from these rules to bylaw status.
The Architects Act does provide a basic framework for formal disciplinary inquiries. However, the only reference in the Act to the process that might lead to an inquiry is to council’s discretion to order an inquiry “into a complaint against a member, architectural firm, licensee or associate”. Until the Act is modernized with respect to investigations and discipline, enshrining the fundamentals of the institute’s key conduct processes is an important step.
The Bylaw Review Committee (BRC), supported by AIBC Council, has been consulting with members since the fall of 2015 on the Investigations & Discipline bylaw initiative.
After consideration of the valuable feedback provided by architects and associates during the first phase of consultation, the BRC and AIBC staff have recommended drafting changes to the initial version of the proposed Investigation and Discipline bylaws. These “Phase 2” amendments better reflect the underlying intention of the remedial process and provide more flexibility to both the Investigations Committee and respondents.
The notable changes include:
- A name change throughout the bylaws from remedial “discipline” to remedial “recommendation”;
- Bylaw 37.22: This bylaw provides that an individual can choose to accept or reject a remedial recommendation. A decision to reject a remedial recommendation would not become a disciplinary matter unto itself, and the original concern could proceed through discipline normally;
- Bylaw 37.23: This bylaw provides that successful completion of a remedial recommendation would not constitute a disciplinary violation and would not form part of a respondent’s discipline record;
- Bylaw 37.37: This bylaw confirms publication by the AIBC of summaries of successful remedial recommendations without the respondent’s name for the purpose of educating members, associates and public;
- Bylaw 37.16: This bylaw consolidates the Investigation Committee’s investigation and remedial discipline authority in one bylaw;
- Bylaw 37.16 (j): This bylaw confirms the longstanding practice of the Investigations Committee to issue non-binding, non-disciplinary “observations” following an investigation to assist the respondent with future practice;
- Bylaw 37.13: This bylaw confirms that quorum for the investigations committee is comprised of a majority of architects; and,
- A replacement of the phrase ‘lay member’ with ‘public member’ which is consistent with the consensual resolution bylaws.
Remedial Recommendation Process Proposed
In addition to elevating rules to bylaws, the institute’s Investigations Committee has long expressed a need for a more flexible, remedial approach to addressing some of the complaints it investigates. Currently, the rules only provide for a recommendation of charges, leading to discipline through an inquiry or consensual resolution, or a dismissal of the complaint. This leaves no room for situations where concerns arise during the investigation about ethics or competency but the Investigations Committee is of the opinion that a remedial approach would be a more effective process than formal discipline for addressing the causes of the complaint.
The remedial recommendation process is intended to address situations where mitigating factors suggest a formal discipline finding or admissions is not necessary, in the public interest, but at the same time the competency or conduct concerns require more than a dismissal with ‘observations’. In other words, there are serious enough concerns to merit the file staying within the discipline process – albeit a less formal, assistance-based process.
The proposed process would give the Investigations Committee the authority to make a “remedial recommendation”. This might include mandatory coursework, counselling, examinations, peer review/practice consultation, an oral conduct review or other measures deemed appropriate. A separate panel, called the remedial review panel, would monitor and assess compliance with the remedial recommendation and report back to the Investigations Committee.
The primary benefit of the proposed process is the opportunity to identify practice concerns and provide a more nuanced, remedial process than is available under more formal discipline. The Investigations Committee would retain authority to recommend charges for matters that would not lend themselves to remedial recommendation.
This bylaw initiative is complicated. Members are encouraged to review the material, ask questions and provide feedback.
Phase 2 (Spring-Summer 2016):
Read the proposed Investigations & Discipline bylaws (May 2016). These proposed bylaws will be voted on by AIBC members in June.
Read the updated draft Investigations & Discipline bylaws (May 2016). Proposed amendments are highlighted. The colour-coded edits track the changes throughout the bylaw consultation process.
Phase 1 (Fall 2015-Spring 2016):PowerPoint Presentation from consultation sessions (Fall 2015–October 2015-January 2016)