Legal Defence for Doctors

The medical profession faces the twin pressures of increasingly pervasive regulation and an increased public appetite for seeking redress. During their careers, many doctors will face a complaint or an allegation brought against them which, if serious, may threaten their reputation and ability to earn a living. Specialist legal advice is essential to ensure the best possible outcome.

Our regulatory team has been advising and representing doctors for years. We are recognised specialists in the field of professional regulation and understand the exigencies of the practice of medicine.  We have a track record for securing better than expected outcomes for doctors facing complaints.

Many doctors fear that the involvement of the GMC will inexorably result in their case being referred to a public hearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).  Our experience, and the statistics, do not support this fear. The focus of our early work with our doctor clients is to get cases closed at the early ‘Case Examiner’ stage. Early engagement with the GMC’s process and the provision of a clearly reasoned response at this stage can secure unexpected results.

Our clients are individually supported, right from the beginning of our instruction and assisted to understand the process they are involved in, their options and the best way through. Many of our doctor clients require the input of our specialist criminal, employment or reputation management teams (if they face a police investigation, suspension from work or possible adverse press reporting for example). We can quickly mobilise a diverse team of legal specialists to provide advice that looks at the problem from all angles.

Recent work

We have acted in the following recent matters :

  • Represented a doctor following a concern raised about his status involved in presenting television programmes
  • Acted for a student doctor who was refused his medical certificate which would allow him to commence training
  • Represented doctor following an inquiry into a patient’s death on a cruise ship
  • Advised in relation to a complaint made against a doctor in respect of an inappropriate intimate examination and a failure to provide a chaperone
  • Acted on behalf of doctor in relation to competence concerns regarding anaesthetic procedures
  • Represented a doctor facing allegations of cheating in a formal exam 


Frequently asked questions

  1. I am subject to a GMC investigation
  2. I have to attend an Interim Orders Tribunal
  3. What happens at a MPTS hearing?
  4. Do I have to declare a conviction to the GMC?
  5. I want to register with the GMC
  6. I want to appeal an MPTS/GMC decision

1. I am subject to a GMC investigation

We understand how daunting an investigation by your regulatory body can be; we will do all we can to support you throughout the process. We have produced a handy overview of the investigation process which you can view here.

2. I have to attend an Interim Orders Tribunal

The Interim Orders Tribunal do not make findings of fact. The purpose of the hearing is to decide whether a doctor’s practice needs to be restricted whilst an investigation is on-going. We will discuss with you the steps needed to prepare for this hearing, including collating relevant documents and evidence. Our experience helps us to accurately guide you as to the likely outcome and how to prepare for this.

3. What happens at a MPTS hearing?

Hearings are usually held in public, unless the allegation relates to the doctor’s health, or there is some other compelling reason why the hearing should be held in private.

Prior to the formal opening of the hearing, any preliminary legal arguments may be raised and determined by the Tribunal.

The case will then be opened, by way of the charge being read and any admissions can be entered. Additionally, if any amendments to the charge are required, they will be dealt with at this stage.

Please see steps 7 to 8 of our brochure for further detail of what happens at a hearing which you can access here.

4. Do I have to declare a conviction to the GMC?

It is a requirement of Good Medical Practice that doctors who are registered promptly advise the GMC if, anywhere in the world:

  • they have accepted a caution from the police or been criticised by an official inquiry (i.e. an Inquest)
  • they have been charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence
  • another professional body has made a finding against their registration as a result of fitness to practise procedures

5. I want to register with the GMC

We regularly assist doctors in obtaining registration with the GMC. We can discuss your individual needs with you, and provide you with advice on the steps required.

6. I want to appeal an MPTS/GMC decision

An appeal must be lodged with the relevant court within 28 days of the decision by the Tribunal and as such, you must act promptly. We will advise you on the merits of any appeal and assist you in preparing the grounds and in ensuring that the necessary documents are lodged with the court within the appropriate timescales. We will also ensure that you are appropriately represented at any hearing.


Training and CPD

We offer assistance to doctors in staying up to date with legal and ethical issues, recent examples include:

  • training and round table sessions with the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) on ethical and legal issues, such as the duty of candour and GMC procedure 
  • experiential training in conjunction with UCL Partners on doctors appearing as witnesses
  • updates on issues affecting clinical practice such as confidentiality and consent
  • training on the GMC’s investigation process
  • shadowing scheme for trainee doctors, spending a day with our lawyers



We regularly update on cases and matters of interest which affect doctors. Examples can be accessed here:



...'They understand that there are risks in everything one does and we work together in mitigating the risks'...

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession,  2014

When it comes to healthcare-related matters, Kingsley Napley LLP is a ‘force to be reckoned with’, and ‘shines as an exemplar of a quality practice’.

Legal 500 UK 2013

Read the latest edition of The Regulator, our bi-monthly newsletter on regulatory law.

Legal Defence for Doctors Comment

View all


GMC exercises its appeal power for the second time

The Performer's List – additional obligations for NHS GPs

An illustration of the GMC’s enhanced ability to protect the public

Manifesto watch: Health and social care regulation

The results are in: revalidation is working and is here to stay

Should GPs have to disclose previous convictions to patients?

Adverse employment disciplinary findings do not spell the end of your career

Good communication is as important as a doctor's clinical skills

Addressing the suicide risk of doctors under investigation: the GMC take action

Court rejects argument that actions which can be obviously detected rebut a finding of dishonesty

Appellant’s arguments fall flat in citing prejudice/bias by witnesses and the Panel

Judicial Review challenge to new rules in relation to advice given by legally qualified chairs to fellow panel members

Case Update: The Court of Appeal reaffirms the approach to be taken by Panels in deciding whether to proceed in the absence of a Registrant

Case update: Doctor successfully applies to quash a decision of the Assistant Registrar of the General Medical Council (GMC) to review a decision made by the Investigating Committee not to impose a warning

Case update: Dishonesty removes another doctor from the medical register

Junior doctors industrial action – fair pay, fair working hours

Does the new GMC power mean double jeopardy for doctors?

Case Update: High Court emphasises the seriousness of a finding of dishonesty against a professional

Professional regulatory hearings - looking ahead to 2016

GMC rethink required on anonymous complaints

Case update: A salutary reminder to regulated professionals and students on the use of social media

Professionals: beware the excesses of the Christmas party…

Let's not scapegoat the GMC

The GMC calls for tougher powers to check doctors' language skills

Homeopathy - to stay or to go on the NHS? That is the question

Will the new junior doctor contracts impact patient safety?

The Care Quality Commission's powers and process

New legal duty on professionals to report female genital mutilation

The correct approach to the GMC considering complaints over 5 years’ old

GMC sanctions and the indelibility of online information

The end of the duty of candour double standard?

What constitutes knowledge and the development of the Bolam principle

Warning! - GMC warnings may damage your reputation

Case Update: High Court terminate interim suspension of doctor facing gross negligence manslaughter charges following death of 6 year old child

GMC intervention: this time, it’s personal

The duty to explain risks to patients: a new exposition on consent from the Supreme Court

The GMC’s New Power of Appeal; an unnecessary and oppressive second bite of the cherry?

More faith in doctors and the General Medical Council needed

Overview of the General Medical Council’s fitness to practise investigation procedure

Case Update: High Court considers how to strike the appropriate balance between a registrant’s right to privacy as against the public interest in the regulator having access to relevant material

GMC Consultation on Draft Order – taking up the torch of the Law Commission reforms in the absence of government action?

Legal Update: Regulation of Health and Social Care Professions Etc. Bill

Regulatory Press Round-Up: February 2014

NHS: Changing culture (from B to A from blame to accountability)

Case Update: R (on the application of D) and General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839

Case Update: R. (on the application of Jackson) v General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2595 (Admin)

Case Update: Dr. Utkan Alacakanat –v- General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 1866 (Admin)

Regulatory Press Round-Up: July 2013

Case Update: R (on the application of Dr LI) v General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 522

Case Update: Perry v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2013] EWCA Civ 145

Case Update: Okeke v Nursing and Midwifery Council (2013) EWHC (Admin)

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