Our recent series of blog posts about disciplinary procedures for professionals highlighted the various investigations and sanctions that are applicable to those working in regulated professions.
But what happens when a defendant believes that inappropriate sanctions have been imposed upon them? In rare cases, it is possible for a defendant to successfully make a professional misconduct appeal at court, resulting in the court overturning the decision of the PCC.
This is exactly what happened in the recent case of Teasdale v General Osteopathic Council , in which an osteopath facing disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct successfully had her 12-month conditions of practice order overturned by the court.
The Case in Question
The osteopath in question had faced a number of separate allegations of professional misconduct, for which she had been subject to an investigation by the General Osteopathic Council’s PCC.
The PCC had found the allegations proved and had ordered the Registrant to undergo a 12-month condition of practice order, which included the condition that she place herself under the supervision of a registered osteopath whom she should meet at least monthly. She was also required to formulate a personal development plan, complete a course of training in communication and consent, and to submit two pieces of reflective work before any review hearing.
The Registrant appealed the decision, on the basis that sufficient weight had not been given to her own evidence or that of her expert witness, and also that the sanctions were excessive.
The Successful Professional Misconduct Appeal
While the court of appeal found that the PCC was justified in finding that the Registrant’s failings amounted to unacceptable professional conduct, it overturned its decision in terms of the sanctions imposed, ordering that the conditions of practice order be substituted by admonishment – effectively a professional caution.
The PCC had rejected admonishment as a sanction as they found that the Registrant’s failings could not be properly characterised as an isolated incident. The Court, however, only upheld one allegation which was, in fact, an isolated incident.
The court concluded that this was “one of those rare occasions when a court can substitute its own sanction for that which was imposed by the PCC and the sanction substituted is one of admonishment.”
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
This case highlights how, even in situations where a professional misconduct investigation or professional disciplinary hearing has taken place and an outcome has been decided upon, it is often advisable to seek legal advice.
An experienced solicitor can help you defend against or mitigate professional misconduct charges, and can often help to minimise damage to your professional reputation – whether that is before or after a decision has been made by a PCC.
For more information on all professional services matters, contact Regan or Gemma at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0121 201 3765.