Board ordered to pay cost of disciplinary proceedings after tribunal dismisses referral

05 Apr 2018

A tribunal has ordered that the Psychology Board of Australia (the Board) pay a psychologist‘s costs of disciplinary proceedings after dismissing the Board’s referral.

In November 2011, the Board began disciplinary proceedings against Dr James Freeman. Initially, the matter was referred for hearing before a Professional Conduct Review Panel. However, Dr Freeman elected under the Health Practitioners (Professional Standards) Act 1999 (Qld), to have the matters dealt with by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).

In October 2013, the tribunal heard allegations that a report prepared by Dr Freeman for the Parole Board of Queensland, in which he submitted that the prisoner, Mr Robert Steward Moore, had borderline personality disorder, was inappropriate in that:

  • he relied on symptoms which can and do occur in the absence of borderline personality disorder
  • he did not systematically assess Mr Moore’s motivation for self-harm
  • he did not consider any potential alternative condition open on the evidence
  • he made the findings based on only one interview and a file review
  • the psychometric tests he used were not relevant to the question of assessment for any psychiatric illness or recognised mental disorder including borderline personality disorder, and
  • he did not use a clinical test more appropriate to a potential condition of borderline personality disorder.

The allegations against Dr Freeman were supported by an expert opinion report obtained by the Board.

Dr Freeman objected to the admission of the expert report. At the start of the hearing, the tribunal heard Dr Freeman’s objections and as a result, significant parts of the expert report were redacted.

On 21 October 2015 the tribunal found that none of the allegations in respect of Dr Freeman’s assessment of, and report in relation to, Mr Moore had been proven and dismissed the Board’s referral.

The tribunal ordered that the Board pay Dr Freeman’s costs of the proceedings, with the exception of an application to have the Board’s expert evidence excluded. The tribunal ordered Dr Freeman to pay the Board’s costs of that application.

The decision is published on the Austlii website.

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Page reviewed 5/04/2018