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Serious professional misconduct

Lord Justrice Clark in the Scottish Court of Session gave the following helpful summary of the meaning of the terms, ‘misconduct’ and ‘serious professional misconduct’ in the case of Mallon v General Medical Council [2007] ScotCS CSIH17:

‘”… misconduct" denotes a wrongful or inadequate mode of performance of professional duty; or as Lord Clyde described it in Roylance v GMC (No 2) [2001] 1 AC 311, it is "a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances." The question raised in this appeal is whether the Panel was entitled to hold that the appellant's misconduct was "serious." The statute does not lay down any criterion of seriousness; nor does the case law. Descriptions of serious professional misconduct such as "conduct which would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners" (Nandi v GMC[2004] All ER (D) 25, Collins J, quoted in Meadow v GMC [2007] 1 All ER 1, Auld LJ at paras [200]-[201]) tend, we think, to obscure rather than assist our understanding. In view of the infinite varieties of professional misconduct, and the infinite range of circumstances in which it can occur, it is better, in our opinion, not to pursue a definitional chimera. The decision in every case as to whether the misconduct is serious has to be made by the Panel in the exercise of its own skilled judgment on the facts and circumstances and in the light of the evidence (Roylance v GMC, supra, Lord Clyde at p 330f; Preiss v GDC, [2001] 1 WLR 1926, Lord Cooke of Thorndon at para 28). Misconduct that the Panel might otherwise consider to be serious may be held not to be in the special circumstances of the case (R (Campbell) v GMC [2005] 2 All ER 970 Judge LJ at para [19])


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