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Disciplinary Panel Hearings

2 JUN 2010

Ms Claire Metcalfe - 2 June 2010

Case of
Ms Claire Metcalfe [ 1189263 ], Carnforth, LA6

on
Wednesday 2 June 2010

at

RICS, Parliament Square, London, UK

Chairman                                            

Mary Symes

Members                                            
Susan Bews (Lay)
Barrie Vincent FRICS

Legal Assessor                
Tony Woodcock

RICS Representative       
Vicki Buckley

Charges heard

The formal charge is
You failed to conduct yourself in a manner befitting membership of RICS in that whilst you were employed by the firm Smiths Gore as a chartered surveyor you acted dishonestly by authorising payment of invoices from a client account that you knew were not genuine to obtain the total sum of £74,980 for yourself Contrary to RICS Bye-Law 5.2.1

Determination

Findings of Fact
Miss Metcalfe is before this Panel charged that she failed to conduct herself in a manner befitting membership of the RICS in that while she was employed as a Chartered Surveyor she acted dishonestly by authorising payment of monies for a client account that she knew were not genuine to obtain a total sum of £74,980 for herself, contrary to RICS Bye-Law 5.2.1. Miss Metcalfe was not present but through her solicitor’s correspondence acknowledged receipt of the charge letter and admitted the charges. The Panel also considered the papers in the bundle provided by the RICS and found that the admission is well-founded and therefore found the facts proved.

The Panel heard from Mrs Buckley on behalf of the RICS and received written submissions from Holden Solicitors on behalf of Miss Metcalfe. The Panel was urged by Mrs Buckley to consider the two-limbed test for dishonesty. Firstly, by the ordinary standards the conduct could be objectively regarded as dishonest. The Panel, having regard for all the evidence, in particular the fact that Miss Metcalfe submitted false invoices on more than one occasion, repeatedly requested that cheques be sent directly to her, and that the deception continued for a number of months, regard her actions as dishonest. The Panel also considered the second limb of the test: whether she herself realised that her conduct was dishonest. The Panel had particular regard to her actions, both her letter to the firm when she was found out . The Panel had particular regard to her actions, both her letter to her firm found at page 11 and her admissions made in a meeting with her employers, notes of which are found on page 12. The Panel believes that she was fully aware that her conduct was dishonest.

Penalty
The Panel have considered an appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case and have had regard to the Sanctions Policy dated 1st January 2008, Version 3. The nature and seriousness of Miss Metcalfe’s actions are such as to preclude suitability of either a caution or a reprimand. The Panel also considered whether a fine would be appropriate. The Panel took particular note of the fact that since the discovery of her dishonesty Miss Metcalfe has taken steps to repay some of the monies, and the Panel considers that repayment is the proper course of action and that a fine may hinder her professed intention to repay. Therefore on the particular facts of this case, the Panel is not going to impose a fine. The Panel therefore orders that Miss Metcalfe be expelled from membership of the RICS.

Publication
The Panel is ordering that publication in line with the sanctions policy – however, in view of the sensitivity of the case prior to any criminal charges being preferred, it is suspending publication pending any decision on the preferment of the criminal charges. No publication should take place until the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceedings.

Costs
The Panel considered an application for costs from the RICS. The Panel does not know whether or not Miss Metcalfe is employed at this moment. However this case is of the highest seriousness and it is appropriate that the RICS should be awarded costs in the sum of £3,697.

Appeal Period
The Panel also reminds Miss Metcalfe that she has a right of appeal against this determination that must be lodged within 28 days of service of notification of the decision.