The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a new policy on the service of statutory notices by email and a response to the consultation. The policy sets out how and when the GOC will use email to serve notices, how we will obtain consent, and the safeguards that will apply.

GOC legislation requires statutory notices to be issued as part of some registration and fitness to practise processes. These include when removing a registrant from the register, refusing to retain or restore a registrant on to the register, an interim order hearing or substantive hearing, or when applicants seek initial registration or to restore to the register.

The policy will allow the GOC to serve notices by email to any registrant or applicant who gives consent in writing, and consent may be withdrawn at any time. To ensure fairness to all registrants and applicants, it also outlines the safeguards that will apply, such as measures to check whether a notice sent by email has been received by the intended recipient.

The policy will be fully implemented in registration processes in summer 2022 when the GOC will launch a new MyGOC registrant portal. Therefore, it will not apply to the upcoming renewal period for registrants in January 2022. In fitness to practise cases, the GOC will continue to seek consent in individual cases by emailing the registrant until we can obtain consent through the MyGOC portal.

Yeslin Gearty, GOC Director of Resources, said:

“We are committed to serving statutory notices in a way that is fair to registrants and individuals, and in line with the requirements of our legislation, and the new policy allows us to do that.

Serving notices by email is becoming more widespread and convenient and it is something we initially implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have considered whether in some circumstances it would be appropriate to use email instead of post and in line with our legislation, we will only consider serving notices by email where the registrant or applicant has consented in writing and provided an email address for this purpose.

We recognise that there may be additional risks in sending notices by email which is why the policy sets out a range of safeguards. We hope that the implementation of consent via our new MyGOC portal next year will make this process easy for our registrants in the future.”

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