The disciplinary trial is a type of trial that oversees a correct fulfilment of a professional code by professionals like doctors, lawyers, tax consultants and accountants. An organisation's or a professional group's Council of Discipline (RvT) handles possible complaints against these professionals. André den Exter, Associate Professor of Health Law at Erasmus School of Law and the chair of the disciplinary board of the Instituut voor Internal Auditors (IIA), discusses the purpose of disciplinary law and the measures an RvT has in an interview with Audit Magazine.
The RvT of the IIA is an example of a disciplinary law body and handles complaints against the members of the IIA, explains Den Exter: "The council of discipline handles complaints against the members of IIA Netherlands. It is a disciplinary law that aims to enforce the professional standards that apply to members. The purpose of the RvT is to give a verdict about a submitted complaint. The verdict by the RvT can be appealed at the Council of Appeal."
Disciplinary Law often offers punitive measures to the RvT, explains Den Exter: "possible expropriation of the membership of the association or a fine are the heaviest measures. Implicitly, a reprimand and a warning are the most important measures. This includes a motivated judgement of fellow professionals that specifies that one has not acted professionally or adequately."
Change of behaviour
A verdict of the RvT can have a significant influence on a defendant. Still, Den Exter insists that punishment is not the goal of disciplinary law: "the goal of the RvT is not to sanction people, but to achieve a behavioural change following the professional code. Those involved must understand why the conduct is (in)correct according to fellows. To achieve this broader, publishing a verdict is a possible option. This is where the RvT could be of added value to the professional group."