Doctor brings constitutional challenge to Medical Practioners Act

Medic due before Fitness to Practise committee over medicinal products in wife’s bag at Dublin Airport

The doctor is facing a Fitness to Practise hearing, pursuant to the 2007 Medical Practioners Act, to determine if he engaged in conduct constituting professional misconduct or poor professional performance.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The doctor is facing a Fitness to Practise hearing, pursuant to the 2007 Medical Practioners Act, to determine if he engaged in conduct constituting professional misconduct or poor professional performance. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A doctor facing a Medical Council Fitness to Practise Committee (FTP) hearing has challenged the constitutionality of parts of the Medical Practitioner’s Act.

Dublin-based Doctor Samuel Van Eeden is due before the committee in connection with an incident in 2012 when, on his return from a trip to Bangladesh, medicinal products he purchased were found in a bag belonging to his wife and detained at Dublin Airport.

In 2014, the Health Products Regulatory Authority brought charges against Dr Van Eeden of importing and procuring the eight products seized, alleging contravention of a specific statutory code regulating medicinal products within the State.

Dr Van Eeden, of Nuacell Clinic, Kilronan House, Malahide, Co Dublin was cleared in 2014 after all the charges against him were struck out by the District Court.

Arising out of the same matter, Dr Van Eeden is facing a Fitness to Practise hearing, pursuant to the 2007 Medical Practioners Act, to determine if he engaged in conduct constituting professional misconduct or poor professional performance.

That hearing, which was subject of judicial review proceedings determined in 2017, was due to proceed earlier this week. Dr Van Eeden has at all times denied any wrongdoing in relation to the 2012 incident and says he should not be subject to the FTP hearing because he was acquitted before the District Court.

Represented by Alan Toal BL, and solicitor John Geary, he has launched a High Court challenge to the constitutionality of provisions of the 2007 Act. In proceedings against the Council and the State, he seeks a declaration that part 8 of the 2007 Act, when applied to doctors against whom criminal allegations have been prosecuted but cleared, is unfair, in breach of that doctor’s rights, repugnant to the Constitution and also infringes the European Convention on Human Rights.

He further seeks a declaration the FTP inquiry after his acquittal before a criminal court is a form of discrimination outlawed by the Constitution. In proceedings mentioned before Mr Justice Michael Twomey on Thursday, Dr Van Eeden also seeks an injunction preventing the committe hearing proceeding until his challenge has been decided. The application is opposed.

Patrick Leonard SC, for the Council told Mr Justice Twomey the doctor’s case is “unstateable”. Counsel asked the court to lift a stay on the FTP hearing which was imposed when the matter was before the court on an ex-parte basis earlier this week. Mr Toal rejected the argument the case was unstateable.

The judge said, while not making any decision regarding the injunction application, he would lift the stay preventing the committee’s hearing proceeding. Adjourning the matter, he expressed hope it could be heard as soon as possible.