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The role of the PPC

The following statement was approved by Burton J in Woods v GMC [2002] EWHC 1484: ‘In conduct cases the PPC's task is to decide whether, in its opinion, there is a real prospect of serious professional misconduct being established before the PCC. Serious professional misconduct may be considered in the context of conduct so grave as potentially to call into question a practitioner's registration whether indefinitely, temporarily or conditionally.’ This statement has been approved and applied in a series of recent High Court judgments, namely: R (Richards) v GMC [2001] Lloyds Med Rep 47, per Sullivan J at para 58, subject to two qualifications not affecting the fundamental nature of the tests; R v GMC, ex p McNicholas [2001] EWHC 279 Admin, per Sullivan J at para 12; and R (Woods) v GMC, per Burton J at para 14(ii). It was also seemingly approved by Jonathan Parker LJ, with whom Laws and Keene LJJ agreed, in R (Holmes) v GMC [2002] All ER (D) 412, CA, at para 74. And see the judgment of Auld LJ in Henshall v General Medical Council & Ors [2005] EWCA Civ 1520 below.

‘(It is) not the job of the PPC to conduct an inquiry in the full or evidential sense. Its role was not to consider "evidence"; that was for the PCC's consideration if the matter reached it, evidence that could be forensically tested and with the benefit of mutual disclosure. The PPC's role was to consider whether material put before it on paper raised a question as to serious professional misconduct that "ought to be" the subject for evidential presentation to an inquiry by the PCC. If there was to be a gloss on the statutory test, it seems to me that the expression "whether there is cogent indication of a question to be answered" comes closer, as a matter of contextual interpretation and of public policy, to identifying the PPC's role than that of a "real prospect of success".’ Per Auld LJ in Henshall v General Medical Council & Ors [2005] EWCA Civ 1520.


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