New panels to consider doctors' discipline cases
Two doctors could get another chance to have their disciplinary cases reviewed after a court found 'apparent bias' yesterday in a professional panel's decision to deny their appeals.
Court of First Instance Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung ruled the Medical Council should reconsider the unrelated cases of the two doctors - identified only as Dr X and Dr Y - with two panels with new makeups.
The judge agreed with the doctors that the impartiality of two previous appeals panels was not clear because some members had already reviewed their cases at earlier stages in the disciplinary process.
'These members had already formed a view,' Au said. 'I believe objectively a fair-minded and a well-informed observer would apprehend and suspect that there is a real risk their previous views might well slip into and affect these members' minds in the [appeals].'
Both doctors had been separately found guilty of misconduct by the Medical Council and had their names stripped from the specialist register by the council's Education and Accreditation Committee.
They appealed unsuccessfully to the Medical Council, which shared members with the accreditation panel. The doctors argued the arrangement gave rise to an 'apparent bias' and breached their right to an 'independent and impartial tribunal' under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.