“Astonishing levels of expertise in all criminal and reputational matters,” “they have the most astute and case-appropriate solicitors and partners.”
For any professional, an allegation of misconduct can have potentially devastating consequences. Professional disciplinary and regulatory proceedings can be daunting, not least because of their impact on an individual’s career and ability to earn a living, but also because of the risk of long-lasting reputational harm.
Regulatory bodies can be aggressive in their approach, with most applying the civil standard of proof, i.e. the balance of probabilities, which can make defending proceedings particularly challenging. Early advice and action is crucial. Decisions made during the initial stages can have an impact on the tone and direction of future proceedings, which can last for many months, and in some circumstances, for years.
Our key services:
- Early advice and investigations
- Making representations to regulatory bodies to avoid disciplinary proceedings
- Making representations to the Disclosure and Barring Service
- Representing professionals in relation to interim orders
- Representing professionals during fitness to practise proceedings
- Representing professionals in relation to sanction where impairment is found
- Challenging decisions by judicial review and appeal to the High Court
- Reputation management and media engagement
We have recently acted in proceedings involving the following regulators:
- General Medical Council
- General Dental Council
- Teaching Regulation Agency
- Health and Care Professions Council
- British Psychoanalytic Council
- Solicitors Regulation Authority
- Financial Conduct Authority
- Financial Reporting Council
What can we offer?
BCL regularly acts for professionals from a wide range of disciplines, including doctors, dentists, therapists, accountants, teachers, and many more. We are experienced in acting in proceedings relating to minor procedural and ethical breaches, up to the most serious misconduct, including serious criminal offences.
Often our involvement arises from having first acted for an individual in relation to a criminal investigation, with professional disciplinary proceedings in parallel or following afterwards. We also regularly act in cases where there has been no criminal investigation, and in cases where the misconduct alleged does not amount to a criminal offence. The impact on a professional’s ability to work and protect their reputation is at the heart of everything we do.
We are experienced in guiding professionals throughout the disciplinary process, providing early advice and assistance prior to the formal initiation of proceedings; including through to taking steps to ensure that any interim restrictions are fair and proportionate. We have particular experience in making representations to regulators in order to avoid the need for full proceedings before a tribunal. Where it is necessary to proceed to a contested hearing to consider fitness to practise, or to consider the imposition of a sanction where impairment has been found, we work closely with the country’s leading regulatory barristers, ensuring that our clients are robustly defended.
All regulatory bodies and the tribunals to which they refer matters are unique and have their own practices and cultures. Codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures can change frequently. There is no uniform approach, and an effective method of engagement with one regulator may not work with another. Where a regulator or tribunal acts unfairly or unlawfully, we will challenge them and hold them to account, either through judicial review or by way of appeal to the High Court.
Our advice and support extends beyond the doors of the tribunal. Where proceedings result in unwanted media attention, we are experienced in engaging with publications and media outlets to ensure fair and accurate reporting. We also advise corporates and organisations in relation to regulatory compliance and enforcement.
Recent case studies:
Client A, a senior anaesthetist, was referred to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPTS) by the General Medical Council (GMC), despite having been unanimously acquitted by a jury following allegations of serious sexual offences in a clinical setting. We successfully defended Client A before the tribunal, which ultimately imposed only a minor sanction, enabling him to return to practice.
Client B, a psychotherapist and psychiatrist, was referred to the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) following a complaint by a former patient that Client B had taken financial advantage of him. The complaint, if upheld, would have amounted to a breach of the BPC’s Code of Ethics and could have resulted in Client B being suspended or struck off from the BPC Register. Through our early intervention we were able to prevent the most serious of the allegations against Client B being referred to a Disciplinary Hearing Panel.
Client C, a schoolteacher, was investigated by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) following an allegation that he dishonestly misappropriated funds from parents of pupils at his school. By making detailed representations to the TRA in relation to personal difficulties our client had been experiencing at the time of the incident, we were able to avoid the TRA referring the matter to the Professional Conduct Panel, which would likely have resulted in the imposition of a prohibition order preventing him from teaching again.
Client D, a radiographer, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation in relation to an allegation that he submitted false claims for payment totalling over £50,000 to an NHS trust. In representing Client D at the Crown Court, we were able to avoid him being imprisoned, securing a suspended sentence. We are now defending Client D in proceedings brought by the Health and Care Professions Council.