Risk alert

Don’t fall foul of the law

When to tell your regulator about criminal proceedings

  • Date: 31 March 2023
  • |
  • 4 minute read

THE expectation that doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals should act honestly and with integrity in their professional roles is a universal known. But it’s important to remember that the same standards also apply to their personal lives.

MDDUS has found that one particular area that can often “catch out” clinicians is the need to inform their regulatory body if they are subject to criminal or regulatory proceedings (from another regulatory body) – whether in the UK or abroad.

Both the General Medical Council and General Dental Council (PDF) take this issue seriously and both expect registrants to inform them “without delay”. Failure to do so could put your registration at risk.

But what exactly do the regulators need to know about, and when is it okay not to inform them?

Act swiftly

The first step is not to panic. Contact MDDUS for advice as soon as possible if you think you may need to tell your regulator about any kind of criminal or regulatory proceedings – even if this relates to circumstances beyond your professional practice.

This will allow us to provide the most appropriate advice for your specific circumstances and allow us to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Don’t be tempted to delay taking action. Incidents that occur in your personal life leading to a caution or conviction are of interest to the regulators and failure to inform them in a timely manner could lead to questions being raised about your probity. The GMC have to ensure these proceedings will not impact your fitness to practise or bring the profession into disrepute.

When to report

Both the GMC and GDC require registrants to tell them without delay if, anywhere in the world, you:

  • are charged with a criminal offence
  • are found guilty of a criminal offence
  • formally admit to committing a criminal offence, for example by accepting a caution (including a conditional caution)
  • accept the option of paying a penalty notice for a disorder offence (in England and Wales) or a penalty notice under the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

The GDC also wants to hear from registrants who have received a formal adult warning (in Scotland).

The GMC also wants to be told about any cannabis warnings (England and Wales) or anti-social behaviour orders. The GMC guidance adds that registrants must tell them if they have been criticised by an official inquiry anywhere in the world.

Common scenarios MDDUS have assisted members with and may need to be reported include:

  • receiving a fine for deliberately and repeatedly evading a train fare
  • accepting a caution for anti-social behaviour, for example a domestic dispute with a neighbour that becomes heated
  • a road traffic conviction for a criminal conviction in the UK or when driving abroad on holiday.

When not to report

Both the GMC and GDC have confirmed that registrants do not need to tell them about:

  • payment of a fixed penalty notice for a road traffic offence
  • payment of a fixed penalty notice issued by local authorities (for example, for offences such as dog fouling).

The GMC states that registrants do not need to tell them about “a penalty notice for disorder” (unless it is at the “upper tier penalty level”).

Similarly, the GDC does not need to be told about “an anti-social behaviour, preventative justice, or other social order”, although it does require to be informed about a fixed penalty notice issued under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004. As noted above, the GMC does require such matters to be reported.

Contractual obligations

Healthcare professionals will be expected to follow any reporting requirements at their employing or contracting organisation in relation to criminal proceedings. MDDUS can offer more detailed advice on this area and please do not hesitate to get in touch with our medical or dental advisers if you have any queries.

More generally, clinicians are also likely to have contractual obligations with their employer that might include reference to acting with honesty and integrity. It is important to familiarise yourself with these and any other relevant policies.


  • Remember the expectations on you as a professional to act with honesty and integrity in your personal life.
  • Contact MDDUS for advice as soon as possible if you think you may need to inform your regulator of criminal proceedings.
  • Be sure to comply with guidance on reporting criminal proceedings from the GMC and GDC (PDF)
  • Read this GMC guidance on reporting cautions and convictions.
  • Check any contractual obligations that may make reference to acting with honesty and integrity to avoid potential for dismissal when an issue may arise.
  • Read these MDDUS advice articles on probity pitfalls in primary, secondary and dental practice.

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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