What is the purpose of the case conference, and how will it be conducted?
A case conference is an informal meeting attended by you and the audit team. It is a critical aspect of the independent review process. It provides for you and the audit team involved in the case to meet collectively with the independent reviewer to discuss and clarify the issues for the benefit of the review.
What is the purpose of the case conference?
The case conference is an opportunity for the independent reviewer to discuss the issues with you and the audit team. It allows the independent reviewer to:
- confirm the agreed facts
- determine and, if possible, narrow down the specific areas of disagreement
- ask questions to clarify issues giving rise to disagreement.
Who should attend the case conference?
As the case conference will only consider facts, arguments, information and evidence that have previously been provided to the audit team, it is important that the people attending have a thorough knowledge of the facts and understanding of the issues.
For that reason, only your representatives or advisors who have been directly involved in the conduct of the audit should attend the conference. Likewise for the audit team, only those officers who have been directly involved in the audit may attend.
In keeping with the informal nature of the case conference, external legal counsel, senior representatives or advisors who cannot demonstrate a significant role during the audit developing the response are not permitted to attend.
As the case conference is primarily for the benefit of the independent reviewer, he or she will ultimately determine who may attend the case conference. Decisions on attendance will be made on the basis of ensuring fairness to the parties and to achieving the best possible outcomes from the case conference.
When does the conference occur?
Generally the case conference will occur within three to four weeks of your application for an independent review being accepted.
Once an independent reviewer has been allocated to the case you can expect that they will contact you to introduce themselves and to discuss the independent review process. At this time they may also discuss potential times, dates and locations for the case conference.
How will the case conference be conducted?
While each conference will be tailored to individual circumstances, there will be similarities in the process.
There will normally only be one case conference during an independent review.
Approximately one week before the case conference you can expect to receive an agenda for the conference. The agenda will identify any issues that the reviewer would like to specifically discuss or clarify during the conference.
The case conference will normally take approximately two to three hours. As the conversation is intended to be informal, it may not necessarily sequentially follow the structure of the agenda. You can, however, expect that all of the topics identified in the agenda will be covered, and there will be opportunity for you to raise any issues not listed, provided you do not introduce new information, arguments or facts.
The independent reviewer will facilitate the case conference, engaging with you and the audit team to clarify issues and areas of disagreement you have raised, including the relevance or otherwise of any factual and technical conclusions which have been drawn. The parties are not prohibited from directing conversation and questions to one another provided that the independent reviewer is allowed to remain in control of the discussion.
The independent reviewer will not provide any observations, recommendations or preliminary conclusions during the case conference. No minutes will be taken or supplied. However, you may take notes in the conference for your own purposes.
The focus of the case conference is to discuss and clarify matters raised at audit for the benefit of the independent reviewer. It is not an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) forum nor is it a forum to consider whether ADR is appropriate or available. It is, however, always open to you and the audit team to discuss potential dispute resolution approaches and the independent review process is not intended to limit opportunities for this to occur.
What can you expect following the case conference?
Following the case conference the independent reviewer will undertake their post-conference analysis of the outstanding matters in contention.
If any further facts or information needs to be clarified, the independent reviewer may contact the parties individually. If one is contacted to seek clarification of facts or information, the other will be advised and will have an opportunity to comment.