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Standard of proof: Council approves changes to fitness to practise rules

16 Sep 2008

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Following wide consultation, the General Optical Council last week formally made the rules that will implement the civil standard of proof in fitness to practise (disciplinary) hearings with effect from 3 November 2008.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008, which received royal assent in July, placed a statutory requirement on all nine UK healthcare regulatory bodies to apply the civil standard or ‘balance of probabilities’ in their fitness to practise proceedings. The standard of proof is used to determine whether factual allegations against a registrant have been proved.

The revised rules will apply in all fitness to practise cases where the presenting officer gives the opening address to a substantive hearing on or after 3 November 2008. For existing cases which have already been ‘opened’, the criminal standard of proof will continue to apply.

All respondents to the GOC’s recent consultation on the proposed amendments and accompanying guidance supported the GOC’s approach to implementing the new statutory requirement.

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