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Our terms explained

Getting to grips with the terminology used in our investigation process can be a challenge, so we have explained some of the most frequently used terms below, including the main people and committees involved.


Only the Registered Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee (RVNDC) or the Charter Case Committee can issue a formal warning to a registered veterinary nurse (RVN).

However, situations may arise where the RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee (RVNPIC), in deciding that there is no realistic prospect of a finding against the RVN should the case progress to an RVNDC hearing, may nevertheless still have concerns about what the RVN has done (or not done).

In these situations, advice may be issued to the RVN, for example:

  • change practice protocols or procedures
  • undertake additional continuing professional development (CPD),
  • reminder about the provisions in the Code of Professional Conduct or supporting guidance.

Advice from the College remains on an RVN’s records for a period of two years and if, in the future, similar concerns are raised, the fact that advice was issued may be taken into account.

Case Managers

Case Managers are part of the Professional Conduct Department and may be legally qualified. 

Charter Case Committee

The Charter Case Committee is an independent Committee formed under the Royal Charter of 2015.  The Committee can issue warnings (either publicly or privately) to Registrants.  The Preliminary Investigation Committee may decide to refer a matter to the Charter Case Committee if it considers that there is a realistic prospect of serious professional misconduct in respect of a Registrant, but that it is not in the public interest for the matter to go to the Disciplinary Committee (for example because the conduct or conviction is of lesser seriousness).

Code of Professional Conduct

The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct sets out what constitutes good professional conduct. Further information on specific areas of this is set out in the supporting guidance.

Judicial Review

A request to the Courts that an administrative decision, for example, a decision by the RVNPIC, be reviewed.


Please see our separate note on negligence.


See 'RVN Disciplinary Committee'.

RVN Disciplinary Committee (DC)

The RCVS equivalent of a court where charges are heard against an RVN alleging that they are guilty of serious professional misconduct, or that they are unfit to practise because of a criminal conviction.

The RVNDC hears evidence on oath and witnesses are cross examined.

Although 5 members may sit, the quorum is 3, of whom 1 member must be an RVN, 1 a non-veterinary member and 1 a veterinary surgeon.


See 'RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee'

RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee

The RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee (RVNPIC) is made up of 1 veterinary surgeon, 2 non-veterinary members and 3 RVNs who are appointed to assist the assessment and investigation of concerns.

Every concern raised is considered by a Stage 1 RVNPIC, generally comprising three members (one RVN, one lay member and one other). At Stage 1 the RVNPIC will decide whether it has sufficient evidence to conclude that there is not a realistic prospect of proving serious professional misconduct and, if so, close the case (with or without advice). If that is not the case the matter will progress to consideration by a Stage 2 RVNPIC.

The Stage 2 RVNPIC meets every 6 to 8 weeks to decide if cases should be referred to the Charter Case Committee or an RVNDC hearing.

The RVNPIC Chair provides a report to RCVS Council at the Council’s three meetings each year.

Professional Conduct Department

The Professional Conduct Department of the RCVS includes legally-qualified staff, Professional Conduct Officers and administrative staff. It manages complaints and provides advice on the Codes of Professional Conduct.

The Department is based at the RCVS premises in London.

RCVS Council

The governing body of the RCVS, as provided for in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

Serious professional misconduct

This is a term used to describe conduct by an RVN that is so serious as to warrant consideration of the RVN’s continued registration with the RCVS, i.e. their fitness to practise as an RVN. This is behaviour that falls far short of that to be expected of an RVN.

A case will be referred to the RVNDC only if there is a real prospect of proving serious professional misconduct against an RVN.

Veterinary Investigator

Veterinary Investigators (of whom there are currently three) are registered veterinary surgeons with appropriate experience (such as approved Practice Standards Assessors) who we appoint to assist with investigations of concerns raised about RVNs and veterinary surgeons.

Their responsibilities could include visits to veterinary practices and interviews with RVNs about whom concerns have been raised, practice staff; those who have raised concerns and other witnesses.