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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

11 SEP 2012

Discipline and grievances

Disciplinary hearings for doctors

Following a spate of recent cases on whether disciplinary proceedings for doctors are capable of breaching the right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights, comes the High Court decision in Mattu v University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

The claimant doctor had been dismissed as a consultant by the NHS trust at a misconduct hearing chaired by the trust's chief executive. He brought a number of claims concerning the misconduct hearing to which he had been invited, including that the misconduct dismissal process was a determination of a civil right for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights and that not providing him with an independent and impartial tribunal was a breach of his Art 6 right to a fair trial. In saying this, he relied on the contention that dismissing him prevented him from practising his profession since it would have the same effect as striking him off the medical register or stopping him from working for a monopoly employer (the NHS).

The High Court confirmed that a tribunal consisting of the chief executive was not an independent and impartial one; however the claimant's civil rights had not been breached by the proceedings. The High Court held that the claimant's right to practise medicine had not been taken away from him and therefore his civil rights had not been engaged.

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