2 DEC 2010
Mr Sackeer Hameem [ 612392 ], Ajman, UAE
Wednesday 1 December 2010
RICS, Parliament Square, London, UK
Milton McIntosh MRICS
Rob Swan FRICS
The formal charge is:
That on or about 10 June 2009 you did not act with integrity and avoid actions or situations that were inconsistent with your professional obligations in that you submitted a “Critical Analysis” as part of your submission for final Assessment of Professional Competence as your own work when in fact it had been copied from a report prepared by someone else Contrary to Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members 2007.
Mr Hameem was not present and was not represented. The Notice of Hearing had been sent to Mr Hameem more than 28 days in advance of the hearing by email, which was a method of delivery specifically agreed between Mr Hameem and the RICS. The Panel was satisfied that the Notice had been properly served in accordance with the Disciplinary, Registration and Appeal Panel Rules 2009 (“the Rules”).
The Panel noted an email from Mr Hameem dated 7 October 2010 to the RICS in which he stated that he would not be attending the hearing. The Panel also noted that Mr Hameem had confirmed in the Listing Questionnaire that he did not intend to attend the hearing today and would not be represented. The Panel decided that it was clear that Mr Hameem knows that this hearing is taking place today but has chosen not to attend. He has not asked for an adjournment. In the Notice of the hearing he was offered the opportunity to attend by video link but has chosen not to take up that offer.
The Panel therefore concluded that Mr Hameem has voluntarily absented himself from this hearing and waived his right to attend and that it was fair and reasonable to proceed in his absence in accordance with Rule 30.
Findings of Fact
The Panel found the allegation proved. In June 2009 Mr Hameem submitted his Critical Analysis as part of his submission for final Assessment of Professional Competence. The Critical Analysis which Mr Hameem submitted is at pages 42 to 60 of the Panel bundle. When he submitted the Critical Analysis Mr Hameem signed a declaration confirming that the Critical Analysis was a true and accurate record completed by him. The Critical Analysis submitted by Mr Hameem was so similar to one previously submitted by another candidate (candidate JA) that one of the assessors noticed and an investigation was commenced. The Panel concluded that the similarities between the two documents were striking. If one was not aware that they were supposedly written by different authors one would assume that they were written by the same person. Any differences between the two are superficial. Specific examples include the similarities between section 5.2 of JA’s document (pages 14 to 15 of the Panel bundle) and sections 7.1 to 7.2.2 of Mr Hameem’s document (pages 49 to 50); also the Critical Appraisal section at section 5.4 of JA’s document (pages 16 – 17) and Section 7.4 of Mr Hameem’s document at pages 51 to 53 of the bundle. These entire sections are substantially similar and parts are identical.
Candidate JA who had submitted his Critical Analysis earlier in that year and had passed, has confirmed to the RICS that Mr Hameem had his permission to view his critical analysis but that he did not give permission for him to use it.
The Panel has concluded that because the Critical Analysis of JA and that of Mr Hameem are so similar and in places identical, it is satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities (ie more likely than not), Mr Hameem copied his Critical Analysis from JA’s. The Panel considers that this amounts to cheating and Mr Hameem has therefore not acted with integrity, which is his professional obligation. This amounts to a breach of Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members 2007.
The Panel has decided that Mr Hameem is liable to disciplinary action under Bye-Law B5.2.2 (c) because he has failed to comply with Rule 3.
The Panel has had regard to the Sanctions Policy. The Panel has taken into account that Mr Hameem had no previous disciplinary record. It also took into account Mr Hameem’s submissions in his various emails to the RICS.
The Panel has decided to expel Mr Hameem from membership of the RICS. Its reasons are as follows:
The Panel first considered a caution but decided this would not adequately reflect the seriousness of Mr Hameem’s conduct. This was not a minor breach of the Rules and given that Mr Hameem has been in practice for a number of years it cannot be said that he has acted through inexperience. It also concluded that a reprimand or a reprimand combined with a fine would not be sufficient to reflect the seriousness of Mr Hameem’s wrongdoing and would not adequately maintain public confidence in the profession and in the system of regulation.
The Panel did not consider it would be appropriate to accept undertakings or impose conditions in this case. Mr Hameem has a professional obligation to behave with integrity and therefore imposing requirements to do something which he already had an obligation to do would serve no purpose.
The Panel has concluded that expulsion from membership of the RICS is the only proportionate sanction in this case. The Sanctions Policy indicates that cases of lack of integrity are likely to result in expulsion unless there are extenuating circumstances. The Panel has concluded that there are no extenuating circumstances in this case. The Panel considered it an aggravating feature that Mr Hameem took no steps to correct his behaviour and does not seem to appreciate the seriousness of what he has done. He has asked for forgiveness and has accepted “an error on his part” but has asked to retake the APC as if nothing has happened. A further aggravating feature was that Mr Hameem signed a declaration confirming that the Critical Analysis was a true and accurate record completed by him which was misleading.
Integrity is the core value of all professions. Clients, the public and fellow professionals are all entitled to expect complete integrity from members of the RICS. The Panel considered Mr Hameem’s wrongdoing to be extremely serious. It considers this sanction is proportionate and necessary to demonstrate to society and to other members and Firms that RICS takes firm action in order to protect the public interest and promote regulatory compliance. It is also necessary to deter other members from acting without integrity.
Determination on Publication and Costs
The Panel did not consider that there was any reason to depart from the Publication Policy and therefore directs publication in accordance with the Publication Policy (Supplement 3 to the Sanctions Policy) in RICS Business, on the RICS website and in newspapers local to where Mr Hameem is based.
The Panel orders that Mr Hameem pay the costs of the RICS in this case of £3,853.50. As a result of Mr Hameem’s behaviour the RICS has incurred considerable costs. The Panel considers it is fair for the RICS to seek to recover those costs from Mr Hameem.
This determination will take effect immediately.
The Panel reminds Mr Hameem that he has a right of appeal within 28 days of notification of this decision under Rule 61 of the Disciplinary, Registration and Appeal Panel Rules 2009.