Predatory Conduct of Professionals

A professional must always maintain boundaries with their patient or former patient. They should not abuse their position to engage in a relationship with a patient who may be in a particularly vulnerable position, for example, a patient who lacks capacity or with poor mental health.

This kind of behaviour breaches the standards expected of professionals and the Codes of Conduct which they uphold. Any kind of breach of trust of this nature is deemed to damage the reputation of the profession.

If a professional uses their position to pursue a patient with the intention of engaging in a sexual relationship this is almost always deemed inappropriate and elements of conduct might be viewed as an aggravating feature (such as breach of trust).

Predatory behaviour can range from contact on social media, visiting the patient or client at their home on the pre-text of a consultation, or obtaining personal details from medical records to gain access to the patient, taking money or gifts from clients, and more sinister financial arrangements. Predatory conduct can also be at a business or corporate level, where an orgaisation takes steps to take advantage of a situation to the detriment of someone that they owed a duty of care.

This kind of misconduct is likely to be viewed very seriously and will almost always attract a finding of impaired fitness to practise and a serious sanction. See the case of Yeong v GMC [2009] EWHC 1923 (Admin), a professional disciplinary case concerning a doctor who engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient. The court held that unlike clinical errors or incompetence, a breach of a fundamental rule of professional practice is much more difficult to remedy.

This judgment has relevance in relation to many professional disciplines, not just medical disciplines.

If you are a professional or organisation seeking legal advice or representation in relation to an allegation of predatory behaviour, contact Barristers.London, without obligation and in strict confidence, to discuss how we may assist you. Our fees are competitive.

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