From 1 November 2016, the way that we decide whether a case should be referred to a Practice Committee is changing. From this date, cases will no longer be referred to the Investigating Committee for a decision, but will instead be considered by the Case Examiners.
The Case Examiners are appointed GDC staff members with a statutory duty to make decisions at the conclusion of an investigation. Each case is considered by a pair of Case Examiners (one lay and one a dentist or dental care professional) who review all relevant evidence obtained during our investigation, including any evidence provided by the registrant in question or the informant.
The Case Examiners are not asked to make findings of fact in a case or come to substantive conclusions regarding a registrant's fitness to practise, but are instead asked to determine whether an allegation ought to be considered by a Practice Committee. The Case Examiners conduct a filtering process, closing some cases and referring others for a full hearing.
In coming to that determination the Case Examiners consider:
whether there is a real prospect of the facts, as alleged being found proved, and if so,
whether or not there is a real prospect of the statutory ground being established (e.g. misconduct), and if so,
whether or not there is a real prospect of a finding of current impairment being made.
The real prospect test requires that the Case Examiners determine that there is a genuine (not remote or fanciful) possibility of establishing at a Practice Committee that the registrant's fitness to practise is currently impaired.
The Case Examiners have a number of possible outcomes available to them when making a decision:
to adjourn the case for further information;
to close the case and take no further action;
to issue a letter of advice to the registrant;
to issue a warning to the registrant;
to issue a warning to the registrant and direct that the warning should be published on the GDC website;
to refer the case to the Interim Orders Committee;
to ask the registrant to agree a series of undertakings on their registration; or
to refer the case to one of the three practice committees for a full inquiry.
The GDC's three Practice Committees are:
Additionally, when one or both of the Case Examiners consider it appropriate they may refer the case to the Interim Orders Committee for it to consider whether a dental professional's registration should be suspended or made subject to conditions whilst an investigation is ongoing.
The statutory functions of the Case Examiners are outlined in the General Dental Council (Fitness to Practice) Rules Order of Council 2006 (The Rules) and the Dentists Act 1984 (The Act).
The processes and procedures of the Case Examiners are outlined in the Case Examiner Guidance Manual (813.1 KB, PDF). This is a "living" document and will be subject to regular review and updates. If you have any questions or comments about the Case Examiner Guidance Manual, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Under section 27A(11) or 36O(11) of the Act and Rule 6D of the Rules, the Case Examiners may review their decision to issue a warning after receipt of an application from the dental professional subject to the warning or from the Registrar.
In reviewing this decision, the Case Examiners will consider whether there is evidence that the original decision to issue a warning was materially flawed or whether new information indicates that it was not appropriate to issue a warning.
Under section 27A(8) and section 36O(8) of the Act and Rule 6E of the Rules, the Case Examiners may also review a decision to refer an allegation to a Practice Committee after receipt of an application from the registrant involved, the informant or the Registrar. They may also review a decision when referred back to them by the Practice Committee in question.
The Case Examiners will then decide whether the referral should be withdrawn, maintained or the matter referred to a different practice committee. In making this decision, they will consider whether there is a real prospect that the allegation in the case could be proved and that, if proven, it would suggest that the registrant's fitness to practise is currently impaired.
Finally, under section 27(6A) and 36N(6A) of the Act and Rule 9 of the Rules the Case Examiners may review a decision where they determined that an allegation (or part of an allegation) should be closed and not referred to a Practice Committee.
In reviewing this decision, the Case Examiners will consider whether the original decision was, for any reason, materially flawed or whether there is new information which would probably (on the balance of probabilities) have led to a different decision.
If you have agreed undertakings with the Case Examiners, your registration will depend on you complying with them.
The role of the Case Review Team (CRT) is to monitor your compliance with your undertakings for their duration. Shortly after you have agreed your undertakings, a CRT officer will write to you and your legal representatives regarding compliance with the undertakings. If you are represented, your defence organisation/solicitor may assist you with making the relevant arrangements.
If you are unrepresented, you may find the Information Guide for Unrepresented Registrants (216.9 KB, PDF) useful.
The responsibility for complying with the undertakings is yours but the CRT will assist you by providing deadlines and a point of contact if you have queries, particularly if you do not have the support of a defence organisation.
If you breach your undertakings, the CRT will notify the Case Examiners who may review your case and either vary the undertakings or refer you to a Practice Committee.
Case Examiners usually issue undertakings from the Undertakings Bank (HE version) (221.8 KB, PDF) but can also issue bespoke undertakings to registrants, tailored to their specific circumstances.
If your registration is subject to undertakings, you may find it useful to consult our Glossary of Terms (445.5 KB, PDF).
If any of your undertakings apply at any time you provide dental services you must make the arrangements to comply with the undertakings before going back to work.
The Case Review Team cannot and does not interpret undertakings: they are agreed with the Case Examiners and will be reviewed by the Case Examiners.
If you cannot comply with an undertaking, please contact the CRT officer as soon as possible to discuss this further. Only the Case Examiners can vary the undertakings on your registration so an early review may be necessary.
Occasionally, you may notice information on our online register relating to undertakings which is marked "private". Material marked private is non-disclosable except to the registrant. This is because it relates to their mental or physical health or matters relating to their private and family life.
For more information please see our Disclosure and Publication Policy.
Please ensure that you keep the GDC informed of any changes to your address or other contact details as the CRT will need to be able to contact you during your period of undertakings.
If you would like to contact us, please use our online form.
The GDC has 14 Case Examiners; nine clinical and five lay.
Click on the links below to learn more about the Case Examiners: