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Reports on an Industrial Scale – Bux and GMC [2021] EWHC 762

Author: Andrew Strickland

Published: 07 Aug 2023

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The renowned Judge Mostyn heard a case involving an appeal against the removal of a doctor from the Medical Register.

An Earlier Case involving Reports Issued at Scale

In the case of Dr Zafar [Liverpool Victoria and Dr Zahar [2020] EWHC 846], the reports related largely to relatively modest personal injury claims in respect of road traffic accidents.

We will all be aware that this case led to an additional paragraph in statements prepared by expert witnesses:

“I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”

“Inadequate food preparation and food handling”?

Mr Bux focussed on reports involving holiday food poisoning.

The Judge described the reports produced by Mr Bux as being on an industrial scale. Between 2016 and 2017 he wrote reports in 684 cases at a price of £180 plus VAT per report.

Matters were made more concerning as Mrs Bux was a salaried partner of the firm of solicitors that referred work to Mr Bux. This potential conflict of interest was not disclosed in the reports.

The Judge summarised his views of the reports:

“The reports were written by the appellant, so far as I can tell, on a boilerplate basis. They were superficial, unanalytical, devoid of any differential diagnoses, and were invariably supportive of the claim. They would generally conclude with the words (or words to the same effect):
"I am of the opinion that the symptoms are due to infective gastroenteritis as a consequence of food poisoning. On the balance of probabilities, this was due to inadequate food preparation and food handling at the hotel..."”

Judge Mostyn, in his recent decision, stated that insurers would be unlikely to accept a report from a medical expert if the relationship with the firm of instructing solicitors was disclosed. 

As happened with the case of Liverpool Victoria and Dr Zahar, Dr Bux continued to dig, despite finding himself in a hole: he compounded his problems by making untrue statements to the General Medical Council.

A Moral of This Sad Tale

We are far removed from being medico-legal experts and we do not produce reports on a production line. There is, in my view, a deeper lesson to be taken from these cases. It is about the balance between power and responsibility. In the case of Liverpool Victoria and Dr Zahar, Counsel for Liverpool Victoria addressed the privileged position of the expert witness:

“…that privileged position rested upon the duty which an expert witness owes to the court, and an expert witness who abuses that privileged position by lying should expect to be treated more severely than a member of the public who tells lies to a court.”

We should always remember that the power to give opinion evidence in Court brings with it the enhanced responsibilities of being an expert witness.

*The views expressed are the author’s and not ICAEW’s.