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General Dental Council (GDC) lawyers

Our specialist lawyers have extensive experience of successfully defending dentists, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians in proceedings before the General Dental Council. We regularly deal with a wide range of cases, including registration issues, clinical issues, allegations of serious misconduct, health issues and scope of practice matters.

If you are facing disciplinary proceedings before the GDC, it is vital that you seek specialist assistance without delay in order to protect your interests and safeguard your practise. Our specialist lawyers are recommended in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for professional discipline work. We understand the needs and anxieties of clients facing a possible restriction of their practise or in some cases the potential loss of livelihood. We take a pro-active approach to defending cases we pride ourselves on achieving the best possible outcomes for clients.

Our lawyers have experience of assisting dental professionals with the following matters:

  • Advising dentists in relation to NHSE investigations, including Practitioner Performance Advice (PPA) referrals, Performance Assessment Group (PAG) meetings and Performers List Decision Panel (PLDP) hearings
  • Criminal investigations in relation to suspected illegal practice
  • Advising dentists and dental care professionals with professional registration issues
  • Providing specialist advice during initial referral and investigation
  • Preparation of written responses to the Case Examiners
  • Representation at Interim Orders hearings
  • Representation at Professional Conduct Committee hearings
  • Representation at review hearings
  • Advice on appeal against decisions

Specialist legal advice

It is important that you seek specialist advice before responding to correspondence from the GDC. Any response which is made should be carefully considered in order to protect your interests and to avoid prejudicing your case. For a confidential discussion regarding your case, contact one of our specialist GDC lawyers on 0161 696 6250. Alternatively please complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you as a matter of urgency.

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GDC case studies

  • Our lawyers acted for a large dental laboratory in relation to a number of linked investigations by the GDC. The company faced both regulatory and criminal investigations while a director of the company faced a linked regulatory investigation. All matters were concluded with no further action.

  • Our lawyers acted for a dentist in accused of a number of allegations, including violent conduct towards colleagues, in a hearing before the GDC’s professional conduct committee. While a number of more minor allegations were admitted, our client maintained that the more serious allegations had been made maliciously. The case was a complex one and turned on the credibility of our client’s former employer. The allegations which were denied by our client were not found proven by the committee. The committee went on to find that our client’s fitness to practise was not impaired. As such no action was taken against our client’s registration.

  • Our lawyers acted for a dentist accused of dishonestly failing to disclose a criminal conviction on an application for registration with the GDC. We represented our client at a hearing before the GDC’s professional conduct committee. The allegation of dishonesty was not found proven and the case was concluded with a reprimand.

  • Our lawyers acted for a dental technician in a long-running case before the GDC. The allegations centred on the construction of a dental appliance which proved to be defective. The matter was heard by a panel of the GDC’s professional conduct committee. The GDC’s lawyers argued that our client should be erased from the register. However the panel found that our client’s fitness to practise was not currently impaired and therefore no sanction was imposed. Our client was able to continue to practice without restriction.

  • Our lawyers acted for a dentist who had been suspended by the GDC’s professional conduct committee following findings of dishonesty. We were instructed to represent our client at a review hearing before the PCC. We assisted our client with the preparation of a detailed reflective statement which addressed the committee’s concerns. The committee found that our client’s fitness to practise was no longer impaired and the suspension was revoked.

  • Our lawyers acted for a dentist who was made the subject of conditions following proceedings before an NHSE performers list decision panel (PLDP). Our client maintained that a number of the conditions were not workable and wished to pursue an appeal to the first-tier tribunal. We assisted our client with the preparation of grounds of appeal and supporting documents. The appeal was resolved in our client’s favour by means of a consent order. As such a full hearing before the FTT was not required.

  • Professional Discipline & Fitness to Practise Lawyers

    Head of Regulatory Law Carl Johnson talks about the role his team take in professional discipline and fitness to practise issues. Carl discusses the sort of cases the team at Stephensons can handle, the possible outcomes of professional discipline investigations and why legal advice is vital.


Frequently asked questions

A concern has been raised about me, will I lose the right to practice?

When a concern is raised the GDC may investigate your clinical performance, health, your professional conduct or issues outside of your practice. There are several stages when looking into a concern and most concerns will not result in you being erased from the register. It is important that you engage with the process effectively so as to maximise your prospects of a positive outcome.  

What will happen during an investigation?

There are a number of stages and depending on the concern and what each stage finds the case may not necessarily proceed to hearing. It is important to seek specialist advice at the outset as there may be opportunities to conclude the investigation during its early stages.

If a concern is raised about you, in the first instance it will go to the Initial assessment team who will either allocate a case worker or close the case and advise those involved. At the next stage a caseworker will involve obtaining and assessing relevant evidence and then determining whether formal allegations should be drafted for consideration by the case examiners. A caseworker may look at the following:

  • in clinical cases: getting patient records and clinical advice
  • in health cases: getting medical/psychological reports
  • in criminal case: getting certificates of conviction and or police reports.

If the case proceeds to the case examiner stage, the evidence which has been obtained will be disclosed together with formal allegations. You will be invited to respond to those allegations and provide relevant evidence, for example references, evidence of remediation and other supporting documents. The case examiners will not make findings of fact but will determine how to dispose of the matter. This may include closing the investigation, issuing warnings, or referring the matter to a practice committee.

It is also important to note that at any stage during the investigation your case may be referred to a hearing before the Interim Orders Committee. This committee will consider whether action needs to be taken to restrict your registration while the case is ongoing.

Who will hear my case?

If the case examiners refer the matter to a hearing, this may be heard by one of a number of practice committees:

  • The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) will consider allegations of professional misconduct and misconduct outside of practice which impacts upon a practitioner’s suitability to remain on the register.
  • The Professional Performance Committee (PPC) looks at cases where a practitioner’s clinical performance is alleged to fall below acceptable standards.
  • The Health Committee (HC) deals with cases where it is alleged that a practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of physical and/or mental health.

What sanctions could I face?

Reprimand: This is a statement of the committee's disapproval, but a practitioner remains free to practise with no restrictions and so no other action needs to be taken.

Conditions: This is where restrictions are placed on the practitioner’s registration for a set amount of time. The conditions may include requirements for supervision, training and evidencing improvement to the GDC.

Suspension: The committee can suspend a practitioner’s registration. This means that the registrant cannot work as a dental professional for that set period of time.

Erasure: This is the most serious sanction as it removes a practitioner’s name from the register. This means that they can no longer work in dentistry in the UK. A practitioner cannot apply for restoration until five years have elapsed.

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