Dentists without legal representation face much tougher sanctions at GDC hearings

Dentists without legal representation face much tougher sanctions at GDC hearings

The results of a Freedom of Information request by Dental Protection show nearly two-thirds of dentists erased from the register following a GDC hearing in 2018 did not have any legal representation. Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “These figures released by the GDC show just how important it is to have a good defence team if you are the subject of an investigation.”

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of dentists erased from the register following a GDC hearing in 2018 did not have any legal representation. In contrast, 9 in 10 dentists (92%) were found not to be impaired in their Fitness To Practise (FTP) had legal representation when they appeared before the GDC. They continued to practise without any sanction.

This data emphasises the need for dentists to be supported by a dental defence organisation that will protect their interests before the GDC. Dental Protection regularly defends members on a wide range of matters, providing a significant level of support from experienced dento-legal consultants and representation from lawyers specialising in supporting members in FTP cases.

Dental Protection assists members on different matters including personal conduct matters at GDC hearings. It is not unusual for the cost of defending a dentist at a hearing to amount to just under £100,000 when a GDC investigation leads to a hearing.

Having specialist legal representation is important throughout all stages of an investigation and not just for the hearing. Early engagement with the team of specialist advisers at Dental Protection will often mean that hearings, or even warnings, may be avoided altogether. This could also involve bringing legal proceedings against the GDC on behalf of a member. 

For instance, in late 2018, Dental Protection brought Judicial Review proceedings against the GDC’s decision to issue a warning to a Dental Protection member who had committed a minor driving offence.  In this case, Dental Protection successfully argued that a GDC warning would be a disproportionate and unfair sanction by the regulator in these circumstances.

Other defence organisations or insurers may decline assistance to a dentist where it is a personal conduct matter. This would mean that the dentist would have had to pay personally for this legal support and the cost can be prohibitively expensive.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “These figures released by the GDC show just how important it is to have a good defence team if you are the subject of a GDC investigation. Dental Protection regularly supports dentists before the GDC and we know how disturbing it can be. The investigation process can be lengthy and very distressing for dentists who fear that their reputation and professional livelihood can be at stake.

“This is the reason why Dental Protection supports dentists throughout all stages of a GDC investigation including the hearing by providing  the best possible legal support from our team which includes experienced dento-legal consultants, expert lawyers, and other professionals who are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for our members and providing the highest service standards.”

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s2smodern
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Anthony Kilcoyne
Unrepresented must be unfair?
Dear All,

To be legally unrepresented when both your livelihood AND the continuing care of all your patients are ‘gambled’ upon a theoretical risk without even examining the facts properly (eg: an early IOC FTP hearing) or when facing a highly paid GDC Barrister whose remit is to prosecute to the higgest sanctions/harm possible against the dental registrant, is both unfair and immoral when no legal representation is offered as a basic human right, let alone get more adverse outcomes just because one is left alone to legally argue against such a top Barrister - it brings the whole GDC into disrepute IMHO and is not in the public interest either !!

Thank you DPL for pointing this out and going the extra mile, even though some discretionaries don’t appear to on occasions.

Yours observationally ,

Tony.

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