Case studies

Successful defence of RCVS in appeal before Privy Council


Our professional regulation team led by Nicole Curtis and Geoffrey Hudson successfully defended an appeal before the judicial committee of the Privy Council which was brought on the grounds that there was an appearance of bias in the procedures of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for determining disciplinary complaints.

The Privy Council held that the college had made strenuous attempts to ensure that its disciplinary procedures were fair and in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998. In particular, the college had made elaborate efforts to separate the 'prosecution' from the 'adjudicatory' parts of its processes.

The Privy Council also noted that the college had lobbied the government, so far in vain, for legislative reform to preclude members of the Council from being members of its disciplinary committee (DC) and preliminary investigation committee (PIC). It further noted that, until such an amendment was introduced, the college had to abide by the clear mandate of the Veterinary Surgeons’ Act 1966, which made provision for the composition of both the DC and PIC.

The court concluded that a fair-minded and informed observer would not find that there was a real possibility that the disciplinary committee was biased against the appellant.


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