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Vicarious Liability and the Moving Target of Dental Litigation: A Wake-up Call for Practice Owners?

From Volume 51, Issue 4, April 2024 | Pages 225-230


Kevin Lewis


Special Consultant, BDA Indemnity; Founder and Former Trustee, College of General Dentistry

Articles by Kevin Lewis

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In simpler times, a dental patient who suffered some kind of harm resulting from clinical negligence would identify the person who provided the treatment in question, and make a claim against that person to seek any appropriate compensation. That makes perfect sense to most people, and apparently to the GDC, which requires individual registrants to hold adequate and appropriate indemnity for their own negligent acts and omissions, designed to make it more likely that patients can receive any financial compensation due to them if they are harmed by negligent dental treatment.

Yet an increasing number of law firms, especially lawyers whose business model is based upon ‘conditional fee agreements’ (CFAs), more commonly referred to as ‘no win-no fee’ arrangements, are disregarding the treating dentist, and instead bringing claims against the owners of the dental practices where these dentists provided the treatment. The purpose of this article is to explain why this is happening, what it means for individual dentists and how practice owners and those trading as or through limited companies can best protect themselves against this growing threat.

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