Processing of Complaints
The role of the Syndic’s Office is to receive and investigate complaints in order to determine whether the acts carried out by ChAD members in the course of exercising their professional duties are in compliance with their code of ethics as well as with the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services and its regulations. Please note that under the Act, “representative” designates agents, brokers and claims adjusters.
Here is an overview of how complaints are processed at the Syndic’s Office.
The following organizations or individuals may file a complaint with the Syndic’s Office: consumers, the Autorité des marches financiers, the industry, the Syndic or any other person.
The Syndic’s Decision
- Close the file: The Syndic concludes that the professional has not committed any legal, regulatory or ethical offense and ends the investigation process.
- Close with administrative measures: When the file reveals shortcomings (though not offenses) in the quality of the professional services provided, the Syndic sends the professional a warning or a formal notice. This preventive approach helps to correct shortcomings by reminding representatives of their ethical obligations.
- Ethics investigation: If necessary, the Syndic endeavours to obtain a more in-depth version of the facts by reconstructing the events based on the versions and documents of the various interested parties (representative, complainant, current or past insurer, bank, creditor, etc.). Currently, an in-depth investigation takes on average three months.
- Formal complaint before the Discipline Committee: When the Syndic has reason to believe that one or several offenses have been committed, he assumes responsibility for filing a formal complaint before the Discipline Committee. The Committee then rules on whether or not the professional is guilty of the alleged offenses and decides on sanctions to discourage repeat offenses.
The Disciplinary Process
When the Syndic believes he holds conclusive proof that an offense has been committed, he goes to the secretary of the Discipline Committee to file a formal complaint against the professional. The complaint is made up of charges, in other words, the offenses the professional is alleged to have committed, and the provisions of the Code of Ethics that he is alleged to have breached. This is the beginning of the disciplinary process and the point at which the professional may choose to seek legal representation.
Serving the Complaint
- A written appearance: Within 10 days of service, the professional must return the written appearance with a guilty or not guilty plea.
- A notice regarding disclosure of evidence: The documents and other items the Syndic puts in evidence are available for consultation. To view them, the professional must contact the lawyer whose name appears on the notice.
These documents are sent by courier so that the parties may review them prior to the case management conference.
The Case Management Conference
Summoning of Witnesses
After deliberation, the Discipline Committee renders its decision as to the professional’s guilt or innocence. If he is found guilty, the Committee hears the parties’ pleadings with respect to sanctions and renders a reasoned decision on the matter.
Possible sanctions are as follows:
- Fines (between $2,000 and $50,000 for each offence).
- Temporary striking off the roll, (may last either weeks, months or years).
- Permanent striking off the roll.
- Obligation to remit to any person entitled to it a sum of money the professional is or should be holding for him
- Recommendation that the Board of Directors of the Chamber oblige the representative to successfully complete a professional development course.
In accordance with certain legal criteria, the Syndic or the professional himself may appeal the Discipline Committee’s decisions. The right to appeal must be exercised within 30 days of the decision before the Court of Québec.
1. Sections 54 and 55 du Code of ethics of claims adjusters; sections 34 and 34.1 of the Code of ethics of damage insurance representatives.