Scottish Legal News reported that a final-year dental student at a Scottish university, whose studies were terminated due to what the university saw as ongoing professionalism issues, has had a petition for judicial review of the decision to uphold his terminated refused.
It is reported that the petitioner, SM, sought reduction of the decision of the university’s appeal Committee to uphold a panel’s determination that his studies at the university should be terminated. He criticised the fitness to practice procedures adopted by the respondent and argued that the decision by which his studies came to be terminated was so fundamentally unfair that it should be reduced.
On behalf of the petitioner, it was submitted that student fitness to practice proceedings, although not court proceedings, were legal proceedings that required to be conducted in accordance with the normal principles of natural justice, adding that the General Dental Council expected such proceedings to be in line with those for practising dentists. The effective permanent denial of entry to the dental profession was a greater sanction than the GDC could impose and the process by which this happened was not conspicuously fair.
Scottish Legal news reported that Lord Sandison said of the fitness to practice proceedings:
“The question of what proper procedures in the context of student fitness to practise proceedings may be cannot, in any event, simply be surrendered to the views of the GDC or the education provider, but is a matter over which the court must, if asked to do so, exercise its own supervision. In that context, one requires to consider whether there is any reason why the law ought to require student fitness to practise proceedings to conform or at least approximate to such proceedings in the context of registered members of a profession which the student aspires to enter.”
“The essentially undisputed factual background disclosed behaviours and attitudes on the part of the petitioner which, to say the least, seriously called into question his suitability to continue on his course. Most if not all of the ways available to divert him from the path he was treading had already been tried, and had failed. The Panel decided that his exclusion from his course was the appropriate way to deal with the situation which thus presented itself. That was a matter for it to decide in the first instance, and for the Appeal Committee to approve or reject on review.”
Lord Sandison concluded:
“Given the lengthy history of the petitioner’s unsuccessful attempts to make satisfactory progress on the final year of his course, despite opportunities and assistance being afforded to him, the decision that was made, far from being at the irrational or unreasonable end of the spectrum, appears when matters are viewed objectively to have been very much an option available to the Panel to choose and for the Committee to endorse.”
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