Before the hearing
Meetings before the hearing
Case management procedure
We run a case management procedure, which is designed to:
- Encourage both parties to prepare their case and co-operate with each other in order to keep delays to a minimum.
- Facilitate the effective and efficient running of MPTS hearings.
- Minimise the stress on you and on witnesses at a hearing by setting up an effective channel of communication during the pre-hearing period and seeking agreement about a number of key issues.
Meetings before the hearing
Once the GMC has told you that your case has been referred to a tribunal hearing, in most cases we will arrange case management meetings before the hearing takes place. These meetings will usually take place by telephone, and will help to make sure that you are well informed and that we have all the information we need to run the hearing effectively.
Cases which are expected to run for up to five days will usually follow the direct listing process. This means that we will set a hearing date for you without the need for a case management meeting. You and the GMC will be issued with listings instructions which will relate to the relevant Rules parties must comply with in advance of the hearing. The listings instructions will be sent to you by post.
Listings telephone conferences
If your case is expected to run for more than five days you and your representative will be invited to join the case management meetings, as will a member of the GMC case team. These meetings will be chaired by a member of the MPTS listings team. As before listings instructions will be issued, which you and the GMC will need to comply with in advance of your hearing.
For longer, more complex cases, pre-hearing meetings are chaired by a legally qualified MPTS case manager. The case manager plays a critical role in ensuring that both you and the GMC prepare properly for the hearing and that the hearing will run as smoothly as possible.
The case manager will usually give directions to both parties. The most significant relate to evidence that will be presented at the hearing; obtaining witness statements and, where necessary, expert reports. You must tell us at these meetings whether you
wish to present evidence at the hearing to dispute the allegation. You must also give us a list of all the documents you plan to present and the witnesses you want to give evidence on your behalf. The case manager will ask parties whether any witness evidence is accepted. If it is, there will be no need for the witnesses to attend the hearing.
You should bear in mind that a witness’s written statement (and your written statement) will normally stand as evidence-in-chief. This means that there will be no need for the witness to give oral evidence except in response to:
- questions from the tribunal.
You must provide your hearing documents, including details of your witnesses, on the dates specified. Directions made by the case manager are legally binding and a failure to comply with those directions may have serious consequences.
At these pre-hearing meetings, the case manager may decide that it is appropriate to give other directions. For example, a witness could be asked to give evidence by video or telephone link. Or, if more than one allegation has been made against you or the allegation affects more than one doctor, the case manager could decide that the cases should be heard at the same time.
Let us know at these meetings if you intend to raise any preliminary legal issues at the hearing – these could affect how much time we need to allocate to the hearing. Also note that these meetings are not an opportunity to consider the GMC’s decision to refer a case to a hearing or to test how strong the evidence is.
Complying with the Rules and case manager directions
The tribunal will have a copy of the listings instructions and/or case manager directions (as applicable). It will expect both parties to have complied with them, unless there has been a material change of circumstances.
If you or the GMC do not comply with the listings instructions and/or case manager directions, the tribunal has the discretion to:
- draw adverse inferences
- refuse to admit the evidence, and/or
- award costs.
For more information about case management see the Information for Unrepresented Doctors section of our website or Case Management Procedure- Guidance for Parties and Representatives (pdf).
Hearing documents and evidence
At least 28 days before the start of the hearing, we’ll send you a Notice of Hearing.
- explain the tribunal’s role and powers
- give the date, time and venue for the hearing
- confirm that you have the right to come to the hearing and be represented, to present evidence and to call and question witnesses
- confirm the tribunal’s power to proceed in your absence.
We’ll also send you a copy of GMC (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004, which set out the procedure to be followed at the hearing and refer you to the Medical Act 1983, which is available at www.mpts-uk.org/legislation. You should refer to these for the legal requirements, for the hearing procedure, documents and evidence.
You and the GMC must give each other a list and a copy of all the documents you will rely on as evidence at the hearing – for example, expert reports. This gives both parties time to complete their preparation for the hearing. If you have not already done so, within 14 days of receiving the GMC’s documents, you must let the GMC know which witnesses you want to give evidence at the hearing.
If you have a question about the evidence the GMC has given, please contact the GMC quoting the case reference number in their letter to you.
The case manager will tell you which documents you should give to the GMC and when you should do this. You’ll need to send the MPTS seven copies of any documents that you plan to rely on at the hearing. This should be done by 9:30am on the day of the hearing, or by post no more than seven days before the hearing. These documents should have page numbers and an index.
At the hearing, the chair will give each document a number. The GMC’s documents will be labelled with a C, which stands for Council (eg C1, C2), and your documents will be labelled with a D, which stands for doctor (eg D1, D2). It is helpful to use this numbering to refer to documents during the hearing.
Deciding to come to the hearing
You don’t have to come to the hearing, but it is usually in your best interests to do so. For example, questions might arise that only you can answer.
We will send you a hearing attendance form to complete and return to let us know whether you will attend your hearing and whether you will be represented.
Please also let us know as soon as possible if:
- you are unable to come to the hearing because of personal circumstances, such as emergency care issues
- you have any additional needs that affect whether you can come to the hearing (for example, because of a disability or communication difficulty).
The hearing centre
The hearing centre is in St James’s Buildings on Oxford Street in Manchester – please see Getting to the hearing centre for further information about how to find us.
There is an interactive virtual tour of the hearing centre, with audio commentary, on the our hearing centre section of the website. This gives you an idea of what to expect when you arrive.
The virtual tour allows you to explore 360° views of the reception, hearing rooms, and doctors’ waiting room. You can click on the people in the photographs to see more information about the role of different people who are present at our hearings.
This can be found in the Our hearing centre section of the website.
Support for disabled people
Our hearing centre has wheelchair access and a loop system for people with hearing loss. If you have a disability, communication difficulties or other additional needs, please contact us before your hearing, so that we can make any reasonable adjustments.