What is an inquiry?
In most cases, an inquiry will take the form of an oral hearing before a panel of the Disciplinary Committee. It is similar to a hearing before a court or tribunal. Witnesses give evidence under oath.
However, you can ask that the inquiry take place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions rather than as an oral hearing. In addition, the panel of the Disciplinary Committee can ask you to consent to the inquiry taking place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions. An inquiry by examination of relevant documents and written submissions takes place in private with no parties present.
The panel of the Disciplinary Committee will decide which approach is suitable. In most cases, an oral hearing will take place, especially where facts are disputed, or are at issue.
Where will the oral hearing take place?
Most hearings take place at the Teaching Council offices at Block A, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Occasionally, hearings may be held elsewhere. Before the hearing, we will write to you with the location, date and time that you should attend.
How is the oral hearing prepared?
Representatives of the Director of the Teaching Council will be responsible for preparing and presenting the evidence to the panel at the hearing. The Director is required to prove the complaint at the hearing. The Director will usually get solicitors to help. The Director and solicitors will gather evidence such as reports, correspondence and written witness statements.
Before the hearing, we will send you:
- a Notice of Inquiry containing the allegations against you
- copies of all of the evidence, and
- a list of witnesses whom the Director will call to give evidence.
Will the oral hearing be held in public or private?
Hearings take place in public unless you or a witness about whom personal matters may be disclosed requests the panel to hold the hearing or part of the hearing in private, and the panel is satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so. If a hearing is held in public, the panel may keep your identity or the identity of the other people involved, confidential.
Can I question witnesses, or can my representatives do so if I am represented?
Yes, the Director or their representatives will call a witness to give evidence and will first ask the witness questions based on their signed statement. You or your representatives will then be given a chance to ask questions, following which, the panel may ask some questions. This same process applies for all of the witnesses called by the Director or their representatives.
Can I call witnesses or can my representatives do so if I am represented?
Yes, you or your representatives can also call your own witnesses to give evidence. The Director or their representatives and the panel will be able to question your witnesses.
Do I have to give evidence?
No, it is up to you to decide whether to give evidence.
Who will be present in the hearing room?
The panel of the Disciplinary Committee – this will include three to five people, who are members of the Disciplinary Committee. One member of the panel will act as Chairperson.
The Legal Assessor – this is a barrister who will sit with the panel and advise them about legal or procedural issues. The Legal Assessor does not decide whether the complaint has been proven. This is a matter for the panel only.
The Director’s legal representatives – these may include solicitors or barristers who will present the case on behalf of the Director.
The Teaching Council staff – these will include relevant staff of the Teaching Council.
You, the registered teacher
Your representatives – these may include legal, union or other representatives who may act and speak on your behalf. They will put your position to the panel and will question the witnesses about their evidence. If you do not have representatives, you may defend your own case.
The stenographer – this person records all the evidence given at the hearing.
The public – If the inquiry is held in public, there may be members of the public including journalists present to watch and listen to the proceedings. They usually sit at the back of the hearing room.