Questions raised over body’s right to impose fines and costs in previously decided court cases
The RICS made nearly £140,000 last year from its members in disciplinary hearing fines and costs relating to offenses including plagiarism, poor accounts, fraud, drink driving, sexual harassment and even growing cannabis.
The body brought 32 cases in 2010, fined members £24,000 and imposed costs of £113,842.
Eleven members were expelled over the course of the year, largely for failing to comply with RICS regulations, financial mismanagement and not having correct insurance.
But seven cases punished misdemeanours already taken up in the courts or employment tribunals, leading some members to question the RICS’ right to intervene in such cases.
A hearing in August 2010 cautioned a member, Michael Rutter, after he was given 60 hours’ community service for cultivation of cannabis and non-compliance with shot gun and firearms certificates. He also had to pay £1,750 in hearing costs.
A fellow of the RICS was fined £500, plus more than £3,000 in costs, after a conviction for drink driving.
Two members were found guilty of plagiarism on assessments of professional competence, with one having to pay more than £5,500 in costs after unsuccessfully appealing against expulsion.
Christopher Grinter was expelled in July 2009 and told to pay £3,060 in costs after being sentenced to five years in prison for grooming girls and amassing indecent images and videos.
Diane Telford, director of global regulatory operations at the RICS, said that the organisation takes disciplinary action over any conviction carrying a custodial sentence. She said costs have to cover solicitors, panel attendance fees and transport.
Richard Steer, chairman of Gleeds Worldwide, questioned whether some of the disciplinary action was appropriate.
He said: “As a percentage of the institution’s £50m income it is not a great deal of money. The fact that drink driving is also included is particularly intriguing.”
IN THE DOCK: MEMBERS PUNISHED BY THE RICS
- Andrew Ferrier, expelled and order to pay £4054.50 in costs by the RICS after an employment tribunal found him guilty of sexual harassment
- Christopher Manning, fined £5000 plus £4354.50 costs for “reckless” surveying
- David Simpson, convicted for attempted fraud in Glasgow in 2008, fined £1000 and £3142 in costs, but not expelled
- Richard Buxton, expelled for fraud and money laundering following criminal conviction in 2009
- Ellis and Partners, fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,980 for failing to submit an annual return in 2009. The firm has lodged an appeal.