The regulator was found to have acted unlawfully in its handling of the consultation on the annual retention fee (ARF).
In the statement the regulator appeared to sidestep the substance of Justice Cranston’s judgment.
We have been alerted to your press statement with regard to today’s judgment by Mr Justice Cranston. You quote, highly selectively, from paragraph 36 of the judgment, which credits the GDC for its public announcements on a commitment to transparent consultation. However, that specific paragraph goes on to outline that ‘a transparent consultation meant that consultees had to be put in a position to test the validity of the assumptions purporting to underlie the suggested fee increase’.
Elsewhere in the consultation, Mr Cranston is unambiguous that, whilst the GDC may have made these public announcements, it did not live up to them. For example:
- ‘In my judgment…there was a gaping hole in the GDC annual retention fee consultation’ (paragraph 37)
- ‘The GDC’s answer to the freedom of information request…was distinctly unhelpful’ (paragraph 37)
- ‘In my judgment this substantially increased projection of the number of fitness to practise hearings clearly required a transparent explanation and adequate information as to how it was calculated. […] None of the key information as regards closure rates and fitness to practise trend information was disclosed as part of the consultation (paragraph 38)
- ‘The gap [in information] was fundamental to the whole edifice. As a result the consultation was not transparent’ (paragraph 40).
Therefore, to highlight this extract from the judgment, without recognising the context – that the GDC has been found not to have lived up to its public announcements on transparency, which is the basis for the finding of unlawfulness of the consultation – is enormously misleading.
It is also interesting to note that today’s release sits just above the GDC’s position statement on the duty of candour and honesty. In light of the fact that a High Court judge has today handed down a judgment that finds the GDC to have acted unlawfully, I would be interested in your views as to whether your reportage properly accords with the underlying principles of such duties.
British Dental Association