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Practice made perfect

Professional Bodies Registration and Regulation; Recent Court of Session Case.

The powers of professional regulatory bodies to restrict a professional practising was recently considered by the Court of Session in Scotland. Stephen Smith of The Glasgow Law Practice has experience of advising professionals in relation to disputes and issues arising with professional bodies.

SCOTLAND’S foremost civil court has upheld the right of a professional body to stop a medical specialist from practising, even though patients gave evidence of how successful he had been.

A Judge at the Court of Session allowed an Interdict against an osteopath from being allowed to continue to advertise his services, because he had failed to comply with a national registration procedure.

Richard Sobande applied to join the General Osteopathic Council in 2001, when it replaced a previous body, where he had been registered since 1986. But his application was rejected because he failed to provide the correct information in his form.

He then underwent an interview and clinical assessment, and the body decided he could continue to practice, but had to be supervised by another osteopath who would “mentor” him. This was rejected by Ms Sobande, who continued to advertise his services as an osteopath, leading to the body seeking a court order.

At a hearing in the Court, a retired policeman, and a retired architect and his wife gave evidence that, after trying many other professional health carers, they had finally found significant relief at the hands of Mr Sobande. The Judge, Lord Wheatley, found their evidence “clear, articulate and convincing.” Other patients also wrote letters of support.

The Judge said the professional body did not dispute that he had used his osteopathic skills to help a number of patients, but that he had not taken the correct steps to register with them. The specialist had refused to accept that the body had the right to judge or assess his competence, and said their refusal to register him could only be explained by “indiscriminate jealousy and racial prejudice.”

The Judge found no evidence to support this and said his reaction was extreme and wholly disproportionate. “He was, to put it mildly, very angry, and his evidence in the witness box, and the presentation of his appeal generally … was, at times, almost incoherent with rage,” the Judge continued.

The Judge, granting the Interdict against Mr Sobande advertising his services as an osteopath, said that a change in the law in 1993 meant that it was up to Parliament who could then call themselves osteopaths, even if they had done so previously.

*The Glasgow Law Practice has given advice previously on registration with professional bodies, including the health professions. Contact the Glasgow Law Practice for a free initial telephone discussion on {{CONTACT_NUMBER_CONTENT}} .