Hearing preparation for dental professionals
Start your preparation early
Start preparing for your hearing as soon as the GDC has disclosed its case to you. It will help you meet the deadlines set out in the hearing management directions, including when you need to disclose your evidence.
Hearing management procedure: dates and requirements
Details about our hearing management procedure will be sent to you when your case has been referred for a hearing. The first step is to set the hearing dates. We will work with the parties involved to ensure cases are listed expeditiously.
Your preparation can begin following the setting of ‘standard directions’. These are instructions given to both parties so they can start preparing their evidence.
In some cases a pre-hearing conference call may take place. It’s important for both parties to follow these directions, as failure to comply may have an adverse impact on your hearing. Taking part means we’re aware of your views and requirements in advance of your hearing.
Examples of things that may be covered in the call:
- the number of witnesses you wish to call to give evidence
- an interpreter to assist you if English is not your first language
- any support your need to help you take part in your hearing.
If you’re asked to participate in a pre-hearing conference call:
- Consider making notes of points you want to raise and any questions you have for the case management officer.
- Have somewhere quiet to join the call where you’ll not be interrupted and can speak freely, as it can take up to 30 minutes.
If you do not take part:
- the scheduling of your hearing date may be delayed
- your request for certain evidence to be included may be refused.
If you choose not to participate, we will continue without you. You’ll be kept informed of any developments and sent copies of listing instructions and hearing management directions.
The pre-hearing conference call cannot be used to consider the merits of your case or the reliability of any evidence. These are matters to be considered, addressed or decided upon at your hearing by the Committee.
Disclosure of notice of hearing and hearing bundle
You will be sent a ‘notice of hearing’ setting out the allegations.
The GDC will disclose all of the documents it intends to rely on in support of its case. This is called a ‘hearing bundle’.
You may also be sent another set of documents referred to as ‘unused material’. This is information the GDC has gathered, but does not intend to use at the hearing as evidence.
The hearing bundle normally includes witness statements. It will set out which witnesses the GDC intends to rely on and when it plans to call them. If a witness is unable to attend in person, it will include how they will give their evidence e.g. online conferencing (subject to committee approval) (see below).
After reviewing both bundles, you should inform your GDC contact as soon as possible if you:
- want any documents in the unused material bundle included in the hearing bundle, explaining why they will assist you in the presentation of your case
- want to object to any documents being included in the hearing bundle, explaining why you object
- want to question any of the GDC’s witnesses
- want to agree with the evidence of any of the GDC’s witnesses and not ask them any questions
- disagree with the GDC’s proposals about the way in which any of the witnesses will give their evidence, explaining why you disagree
- have any questions about the documents provided e.g. if you think something is missing.
Once the case has been disclosed, you have around three months to gather and disclose to the GDC the evidence you intend to rely on at your hearing.
Deciding on whether to attend your hearing
We encourage all dental professionals to attend their fitness to practise hearing so that you have an opportunity to present your side of the story and answer any questions in person.
By attending you’ll be able to:
- Make an oral opening submission. Make your arguments by speaking in person to the committee. If you’re represented, they’ll do this for you.
- Call witnesses to give evidence and question them.
- Give evidence under oath if you want to.
- Make an oral closing submission. Summarise your point of view on the evidence and documents that have been presented at the hearing
Please refer to our guide for witnesses if you intend to give evidence or call witnesses during your hearing.
If you do not plan to attend your hearing, you can send your written submissions and any other information you want the committee to consider. You must send your information to the GDC’s legal team by the deadline given. Not meeting deadlines set out in hearing management direction can have implications for whether your hearing can proceed as planned.
While you’re entitled to send information to the GDC’s legal team, it does not necessarily mean that it will be considered by the committee. Some general legal rules need to be considered before such information can be placed before a committee. Your point of contact in the GDC’s legal team will discuss this with you if it applies in your case.
Please get in touch with your case management officer at the Dental Professionals Hearings Service as soon as you can to discuss any difficulties you’re having with complying with directions or deadlines.
Deciding how to respond to the allegations
Carefully consider the allegations you’re facing and the evidence that has been disclosed to you when preparing for your hearing.
It is important to decide whether you admit or dispute the allegation.
Making admissions before the hearing
An admission is when you agree with some, or all of the alleged facts set out in the notice of hearing.
Once you are clear about the allegations being charged, you can make an admission before the hearing starts by telling your contact in the GDC’s legal team that you wish to do so.
Making admissions before the hearing may mean:
- The length of the hearing is reduced.
- Witness are not required to give evidence at stage one of the hearing process (when the facts alleged need to be presented and proved).
On the day of your hearing, before it starts, the independent legal adviser may explain the admissions process with you. They will do this in the presence of the GDC’s case presenter. The committee chair will then ask you at the start of the hearing if you want to make any admissions. You might be asked to repeat an admission already made to the GDC’s legal team.
The committee will confirm whether the admissions are accepted.
You can out more in the Guidance on admissions made at the preliminary stage of a fitness to practise hearing.
Deciding what to prepare
Carefully consider the allegations and the evidence that has been disclosed and make a note of any information you may want to present to the committee. Start gathering the information and evidence you need.
Consider taking the following steps:
- Reviewing and notating the hearings bundle (see below).
- Preparing your own witness statement.
- Preparing witness statements from individuals who were present at the time the events occurred.
- Submitting other documents, which may include letters, emails, telephone notes, clinical records, and photographs. You can also submit recorded material, such as audio and video clips etc.
You should make a note of anything you want to address or challenge at the hearing from the information contained in the GDC’s hearing bundle e.g. you dispute a witness’ account of events and want to question them. Please remember to tell the GDC’s legal team if you want one of their witnesses to attend so you can ask them questions.
Preparing witness statements
We have provided further information on preparing witness statements for yourself or any of your witnesses. You’ll find this information on the pages on preparing and questioning witnesses.
You should ensure that written or oral submissions you plan to make are clear and can be understood by the committee. You might find the following tips helpful when preparing your submissions.
When making written submissions:
- Typed written submissions are preferable to handwritten ones.
- You have the correct permissions or redactions (see below).
- Organise your points in a logical order.
- Use headings to signpost each point you are making.
- Use a clear and large font like Arial 12pt.
- Use bullets or numbered points to make your arguments clear.
When making oral submissions:
- Check your statements are clear and easy to follow by practising what you want to say by saying it out loud to a friend or a family member.
- Break down the points you want to make to present your arguments in manageable chunks e.g. address each head of charge separately.
- Refer to the evidence that supports your position e.g. the page number in the hearing bundle. Doing this ensures the committee are reading the information you want to draw to their attention to when making your point.
- Use your own words, as it’s always easier.
- Be as concise as possible, using short sentences and staying focused.
Using documents from third parties and data protection
If you intend to submit documents from any third party (i.e. those not directly involved in the proceedings) as part of your defence, you’ll need to make sure they have:
- been made aware of the reasons you want to present the information as part of your defence
- given their permission.
You may also need to remove (i.e. redact or blank out) any names or details of people (e.g. patients) who have not given permission for their details to be included. The party relying on a document is responsible for making sure personal data is removed.
Please make sure the documents you disclose comply with your responsibilities under data protection legislation. If unsure, seek legal advice before you submit any information.
Do not disclose legally privileged information
You do not have to disclose any correspondence, advice or recorded discussions between yourself and your legal representative. This is ‘legally privileged’ information, it is confidential and does not need to be disclosed.