The Commission has appointed a panel of Queen’s Counsel who will sit as ‘Senior Decision Makers’ and determine the outcome of the Commission’s major enforcement cases. Enforcement cases were previously heard by a ‘Commissioner Decision Committee’ comprising three Commissioners.
In future a QC will be appointed by the Commission as a ‘Senior Decision Maker’ to sit and hear those cases involving serious findings against a licensee and / or individual Directors where those findings are contested by the licensee.
‘Commissioner Decision Committees’ and in future, ‘Senior Decision Makers’, are required to assess the issues in relation to serious regulatory shortcomings. The evidence will usually have been compiled by the Commission’s Enforcement Division. Those licensees and individuals who are the subject of enforcement proceedings are often represented by lawyers. If the case is proven, the Senior Decision Maker will then determine what penalties should be imposed upon the licensee and / or Directors including the level of fine to be paid, any period of prohibition from practising in the industry and the contents of any public statement that is to be issued by the Commission.
The principal benefits of this new approach are that it reinforces the independence and quality of the Commission’s decision-making process while at the same time enabling Commissioners to undertake their wider corporate governance responsibilities for oversight of the Commission’s entire operations including enforcement cases. Until now, Commissioners who were notified that they might be appointed to sit on a ‘Commissioner Decision Committee’ were precluded from discharging their oversight role in connection with enforcement cases on the basis that any prior knowledge of a particular case might potentially be perceived to conflict them from sitting on a ‘Commissioner Decision Committee’.
The Commission’s panel of experts comprises five leading Queen’s Counsel currently:
- Mr Malcolm Davis-White QC
- Mr Richard Millett QC
- Miss Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC
- Mr Nicholas Peacock QC
- Mr Andrew Stewart QC
Further appointments are expected to be made in due course.
Chairman of the Commission, Cees Schrauwers, said “These appointments were made following an extensive process which included interviews held over two days in central London. The Commission was delighted with the interest these appointments attracted and with the very high calibre of candidates who applied to be included on the panel.”