The GDC and the High Court – a dentists considerations

The GDC and the High Court – a dentists considerations

The GDC and the High Court – dentists considerations

Dentists considerations. As the GDC hits the headlines once again, Simon Thackery wonders if this is the only road the regulator has ever known.

Recently I seem to be reminded of the title of the classic 1984 Whitesnake song whenever a new High Court case involving the General Dental Council (GDC) hits the dental news headlines.

In the last month, we have had two more court cases. Both have ruled against the GDC. These come on top of the assessment by the three judges in the Court of Appeal that the GDC didn’t act correctly in the case of Williams versus GDC.

Aga versus GDC

The first case is Aga versus GDC. Here, the court ruled that the GDC was incorrect in its interpretation of the legislation to impose consecutive suspensions (in the case of an immediate suspension pending appeal and the subsequent actual definitive suspension). There was no argument that the suspension of the registrant was a legitimate response to the charges.

An immediate suspension to cover the initial 28 days to allow an appeal to be made was made pending the commencement of the actual suspension for nine months. An immediate suspension is one that remains in place until an appeal is actually heard.

However, the court ruled that, as the immediate suspension would be in place prior to the hearing of the appeal and that the appeal might not take place for four or so months (given the lightning speed at which the GDC works in fitness to practice), and if an appeal was dismissed, then the registrant would then have the nine months suspension commence at the end of the appeal process, then the actual suspension served would have been in excess of 12 months.

‘Pandemic of dishonesty’

The judge kindly pointed out to the GDC that they didn’t have the powers to impose a suspension of that length, and this ‘during appeal’ suspension effectively resulted in discouraging the appeals process, and therefore was a human rights issue. The judge decided the nine-month suspension (which was deemed appropriate) should be concurrent.

This is effectively what happens in the case of sentencing in any other court, as time served on bail is offset against the actual sentence handed down.

This situation has more recently come to light due to the increasing numbers of immediate suspensions issued and the way the GDC has used them. We all know the GDC reached its nadir around 2015 and seems to want us to think it is far less likely to persecute the profession than before.

But it still seems the regulator is convinced there is a pandemic of dishonesty within the profession that justifies its pursuit of registrants.

dentists considerations The GDC and the High Court – dentists considerations

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