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The form of medical appeals

The Privy Council laid down the proper approach to appeals from medical practitioners in as follows:

‘(Veterinary) practitioners have a statutory right of appeal to the Board under section 40 of the Medical Act 1983, which does not limit or qualify the right of the appeal or the jurisdiction of the Board in any respect. The Board's jurisdiction is appellate, not supervisory. The appeal is by way of a rehearing in which the Board is fully entitled to substitute its own decision for that of the Committee. The fact that the appeal is on paper and that witnesses are not recalled makes it incumbent upon the appellant to demonstrate that some error has occurred in the proceedings before the Committee or in its decision, but this is true of most appellate processes.
It is true that the Board's powers of intervention may be circumscribed by the circumstances in which they are invoked, particularly in the case of appeals against sentence. But their Lordships wish to emphasise that their powers are not as limited as may be suggested by some of the observations which have been made in the past. In Evans v General Medical Council (unreported) Appeal No 40 of 1984 at p. 3 the Board said:

“The principles upon which (the) Board acts in reviewing sentences passed by the Professional Conduct Committee are well settled. It has been said time and again that a disciplinary committee are the best possible people for weighing the seriousness of professional misconduct, and that the Board will be very slow to interfere with the exercise of the discretion of such a committee. … The Committee are familiar with the whole gradation of seriousness of the cases of various types which come before them, and are peculiarly well qualified to say at what point on that gradation erasure becomes the appropriate sentence. This Board does not have that advantage nor can it have the same capacity for judging what measures are from time to time required for the purpose of maintaining professional standards."


‘For these reasons the Board will accord an appropriate measure of respect to the judgment of the Committee whether the practitioner's failings amount to serious professional misconduct and on the measures necessary to maintain professional standards and provide adequate protection to the public. But the Board will not defer to the Committee's judgment more than is warranted by the circumstances. The Council conceded, and their Lordships accept, that it is open to them to consider all the matters raised (the appellant); to decide whether the sanction of erasure was appropriate and necessary in the public interest or was excessive and disproportionate; and in the latter event either to substitute some other penalty or to remit the case to the Committee for reconsideration.’
Ghosh v. General Medical Council (Professional Conduct Committee of the GMC) [2001] UKPC 29; [2001] 1WLR 1915.

These principles apply equally to an appeal relating to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons: MacLeod v. RCVS [2006] UKPC 39, para. 22. And see Walker v. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [2007] UKPC 64.

 

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