The Investigating Committee (IC) is a statutory committee of the Council with a duty to consider allegations of impaired fitness to practise and determine whether such allegations ought to be referred to a Practice Committee for a full inquiry. The IC considers cases which they have previously adjourned or cases where the Case Examiners have failed to make a determination. They may also be asked to review a previous decision made by them to refer a case to a Practice Committee, issue a warning or close an allegation.
The IC meets in private and is made up of three experienced and trained committee members drawn from an independently appointed pool. The Committee will be made up of at least one registered dentist, one lay member and, in cases that concern a Dental Care Professional (DCP), at least one registered DCP.
The IC is not asked to determine the facts of the case, or consider whether the allegations made against a registrant are true or not true. It is required instead to 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 was currently impaired.
The IC has a number of options available when making a decision. These are:
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 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, the IC may refer a 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 IC 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 IC are outlined in the Investigating Committee Guidance Manual for cases on or after 1 Nov 2016 (858.5 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 Guidance Manual, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Under section 27A(11) or 36O(11) of the Act and Rule 8D of the Rules, the IC 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 IC 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.
Further guidance on the IC Guidance on Review of Warnings (218.7 KB, PDF) are available.
Under section 27A(8) and section 36O(8) of the Act and Rule 8E (or Rule 10 for cases heard by the IC prior to 01/11/16) of the Rules, the IC 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. The IC will then decide whether the referral ought to be withdrawn, maintained or 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.
Further guidance on the IC power to review a decision to refer an allegation to a Practice Committee can be found in the Rule 8E and Rule 10 Guidance documents.
Finally, under section 27(6A) and 36N(6A) of the Act and Rule 9 of the Rules the IC 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.
Further guidance on the IC power to review a decision not to refer an allegation to a Practice Committee is available.
The Investigating Committee currently has ten members, of which four are dentists, two are DCPs and four are lay.
Click on the links below to learn more about the panellists: