A warning on expense-sharing arrangements

shutterstock_137697149Dentists who are in an expense-sharing arrangement are being encouraged to reflect carefully on their business status to avoid any risk of legal proceedings from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

You may be at risk if you think you registered as a partnership but are in an informal expense-sharing arrangement.

The advice comes from Andrew Lockhart-Mirams, chairman of the NASDAL Lawyers’ Group.

He has been prompted by a number of cases where dentists in expense-sharing arrangements using a single shared registration have been told they should have individual registrations.

He warned: ‘The danger is that if you are operating a regulatory activity and you are not correctly registered, you are committing a criminal offence.

‘The question you need to ask yourselves is who is running the business?

‘If you each operate your own business around your patients but share the costs of the receptionist, you need an individual registration.

‘If on the other hand, you are both jointly and severally liable for all the costs of one business, then you have a partnership and a single registration is required.’

Andrew pointed out that an individual registration carried the additional advantage of protecting you from liability of litigation against other partners.

By contrast, when you are in a partnership, liability is shared.

Chris Davies, another member of the Lawyers’ Group said he was asked for advice by a client who appeared to be trading as a partnership with two other dentists.

This dentist had bought out the two senior dentists and they all practised together in the shared premises.

Chris said: ‘After the buyout they initially continued with one CQC registration but my client didn’t want to expose himself to potential litigation and I advised him to obtain his own CQC registration.

‘Having an individual registration can have its advantages.’

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