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Public law and Regulation

Case reports and guidance on public law and professional regulation issues

10 OCT 2014

The Professional Standards Authority v The General Chiropractic Council & Anor [2014] EWHC 2190 (Admin); (2014) PLLR 084

The Professional Standards Authority v The General Chiropractic Council & Anor [2014] EWHC 2190 (Admin); (2014) PLLR 084
Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court, Lang J
16 July 2014

Summary

Where the Investigating Committee of the General Chiropractic Council finds there is a case to answer, the allegations must be referred to the Professional Conduct Committee; there is no discretion to do otherwise.

Detail

(1) The claimant referred decisions of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the General Chiropractic Council to the High Court. The registrant was a party to the case and submitted written submissions objecting to the proposed remittal.

(2) The registrant provided chiropractic treatment to patients when registered as non-practising and without having indemnity insurance. The facts were found to be proved in full at the first fitness to practice hearing, and were part of a pattern of irresponsible behaviour rather than mere oversight. No mitigation or evidence of remorse, insight or regret was given, and there was no evidence that the registrant had remedied his behaviour. The panel imposed a six-month suspension order without any provision for review, finding the suspension would be short and proportionate.

(3) The claimant’s grounds concerned:

(1) failing to bring charges of dishonesty against the registrant;

(2) giving an unduly lenient sanction; and

(3) failing to give adequate reasons for decisions.

(4) The defendant consented to the case being remitted for a fresh hearing on the three grounds above, but the claimant asked the court to broaden the consent order.

(5) HELD: The appeal was allowed.

(6) On ground (1), the court found there was plainly evidence of the charges of dishonesty sought by the claimant arising out of the same episode forming the basis of the principle allegations. Under section 20(12) of the Chiropractors Act 1994, allegations must be referred for hearing where the Investigating Committee concludes that there is a case to answer. The defendant has no discretion, and the failure to refer the additional issues was a serious error. If the findings of dishonesty had been made, it is likely that a more serious sanction would have been imposed. The court ordered that the case remitted to a fresh panel for re-hearing and consideration of these charges.

(7) On ground (2), the court found that the sanction granted was unduly lenient due to a lack of review of the individual’s case before the reinstatement of his license.

(8) The court did not find for the claimant on ground (3), stating that the reasons given were intelligible and sufficient in the circumstances.

Appeal allowed.

Key Paragraphs

[25] – Discretion to bring charges
[28] – Remittal for fresh hearing
[30] – Failure to order a review
[32] – Adequate reasons
[33] – Conclusion
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