Monibi v General Dental Council [2014] EWHC 1911 (Admin)

Posted on
Between 2007 and 2009, M, a dentist provided dental services to a patient, Patient A. Patient A was dissatisfied with her treatment and the matter was referred to the General Dental Council which instituted disciplinary proceedings.

The allegations against M were proved. Specifically, that there was a failure to obtain informed consent for the treatment, M's record keeping was found to be inadequate in that he did not make any or any adequate record of Patient A's aspirations; and his conduct in altering his records in two of the five respects that were the subject of the charge was dishonest.

M was suspended for four months. He appealed against that determination on the grounds that the findings of fact made by the professional conduct committee (the committee) were wrong and that the suspension that was contingent upon the finding of dishonesty should be set aside. M appealed.

M submitted that the findings were wrong, contrary to the weight of the evidence and decisions which no reasonable committee could have reached. M's challenge was founded upon five strands of argument, criticising: (i) a failure to consider the evidence globally but instead as isolated and largely unconnected events; (ii) reliance upon Patient A's evidence as 'honest and credible' whilst failing to give due consideration to the numerous inconsistencies in her evidence which when viewed as a whole made her evidence irreconcilably unreliable; (iii) the committee's own new version of the facts which itself was illogical, not founded on an evidential basis and indeed contradicted by the evidence; (iv) the committee's finding that of six admitted hand written alterations in clinical notes, two were dishonest although they had been made at the same time as four other admitted alterations which the committee found had been innocently made to correct genuine factual errors; (v) a failure to give sufficient weight to the appellant's previous good character.

The court ruled:

Applying established law, although Patient A's evidence was shown to be unreliable in a number of significant respects, that had not meant that her evidence should be rejected in its entirety, but it gave rise to the need to consider it carefully and in the context of the case as a whole.

The committee had not considered the evidence as a whole when making its findings of fact about the appointments in turn. That was a significant weakness in the committee's approach but had not of itself justified setting aside the committee's findings. Having reviewed the evidence as a whole, the committee's core findings about what happened in respect of three of the six errors were not wrong.

However, the finding that M had made the alterations to his records on one occasion was wrong. In the absence of a finding that M realised at the time that the controversial alterations he had made to the notes on two occasions were wrong, the committee's findings of dishonesty could not stand.

Once it had been decided that five of the six alterations had been honestly made, that fact and M's general integrity weighed heavily in the balance against a finding that the sixth alteration was dishonest. The challenges to the committee's determination was rejected save for the allegation that his conduct in altering two out of the five records was not dishonest.The sanction would therefore be quashed (see [60], [62] of the judgment). 

Wasu v General Dental Council [2013] All ER (D) 22 (Dec) applied.