In this case, the Court had to consider competing privacy rights of Dr D (D) and the patient (P) and the General Medical Council’s (GMC) duty of disclosure following a subject access request (SAR).

  • P made a complaint about D
  • The GMC investigated and obtained an expert’s report
  • P made a SAR for disclosure of the report
  • P planned to use the report in a potential clinical negligence claim
  • D expressly refused to consent to the disclosure of the report
  • The GMC carried out a “balance of interest test” and decided to disclosed the report but agreed not to take this action until the issue was resolved by the Court.

The Court held that GMC’s decision was wrong and provided useful guidance as follows:

  • There must be a balance between the respective rights of privacy
  • In the absence of consent, there is a rebuttable presumption against disclosure
  • If the sole or dominant purpose is to obtain a document for litigation, then that adds weight in favour of refusal.