2021 archived consultation: Hearings and indicative sanctions guidance
23 Sep 2021
30 Jun 2021
This consultation was previously hosted on our consultation hub. We have moved it here as part of archiving.
We asked stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed updates to the GOC Indicative Sanctions Guidance. The aim of this guidance is to assist members of the Fitness to Practise Committee (FtPC) to understand their individual and collective responsibilities, leading to the making of fair and just decisions. It was developed by the Council for use by its FtPC when hearing cases and considering what sanction, if any, to impose following a finding of impairment.
Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the updated guidance achieved our aim of assisting members of the FtPC to understand their responsibilities and enable the making of fair and just decisions. We are very grateful for the positive and constructive feedback that we received, which included:
- It could be made clearer in the guidance that the FtPC has a duty to the public to provide clear and cogent reasons so that its decision and the reasons for it can be clearly understood.
- The guidance on when a hearing may be heard in private could set out the principle of open justice more clearly.
- A case involving discrimination could be added as a type of case in which a more serious sanction is likely to be appropriate.
- More recent case law could be added in some areas.
We reviewed the responses from the consultation and decided whether to accept, reject or incorporate the feedback. The following amendments have been made:
- We re-drafted the guidance on decision making so that it is clear to the FtPC that it must have in mind its duty to the public, when giving its reasons for a decision, to ensure that its decision, and the reasons for it, can be clearly understood in the particular circumstances of the case.
- We explained more clearly that hearings involving sensitive allegations or personal matters can be adapted to ensure privacy without the need to hold the hearing in private, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
- We added cases involving discrimination as an example of a type of case in which a more serious sanction is likely to be appropriate.
- We added recent case law including, Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care v General Medical Council  EWHC 1638 (Admin) relating to appropriate sanction for dishonesty and GMC v Awan  EWHC 15553 (Admin) with regard to the FtPC’s approach to insight in cases where facts have been found proved despite a registrant’s denial.
We will hold a review of the guidance no later than 31 March 2023 to ensure it remains up to date.
As the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, we are committed to protecting the public, maintaining standards, and responding to concerns about the fitness to practise of our registrants. In doing so, there are circumstances in which we need to hold hearings.
Our hearings and indicative sanctions guidance was most recently revised on 1 December 2018. The aim of this guidance is to assist members of the Fitness to Practise Committee (FtPC) to understand their individual and collective responsibilities, leading to the making of fair and just decisions. It was developed by the Council for use by its FtPC when hearing cases and considering what sanction, if any, to impose following a finding of impairment.
We have made some updates to the guidance which can be summarised as follows:
- revising the format to make the document more user-friendly;
- updating the case law;
- updating references to the European Union and the GOC’s Standards of Practice;
- amending the section on warnings to make it clearer; and
- adding a section on adverse inferences.
The updated guidance, together with a draft impact assessment, is available on the ‘related’ section at the end of the page.
Why your views matter
We are interested in stakeholders’ views on these amendments before we finalise the updated hearings and indicative sanctions guidance.
The public consultation will last for a period of 12 weeks.