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Bux v The General Medical Council  EWHC 762 is very important reading for all expert witnesses.
- Apr 29, 2021
- Latest News
The judgment concerned an appeal by Dr Bux against the findings of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal and against the decision directing his erasure from the Medical Register in 2019. Mr Justice Mostyn dismissed his appeal agreeing that he dishonestly and deliberately wrote formulaic reports diagnosing food poisoning.
Dr Bux, now removed from the Medical Register, acted as an expert witness in cases where holidaymakers claimed they had suffered food poisoning. He would produce a decisive expert report saying this was true and the holidaymaker’s solicitor would then make a small claim in the County Court against the travel company, whose insurers would pay out. It was cheaper to settle the claim rather than contest the matter, particularly as the expert report was so strong in the favour of the claimant.
Nothing unusual here in these litigious times one would think and the claims would not raise any concerns if everything were done properly. However, Dr Bux was found to have acted in a state of conflict of interest, dishonestly and for financial gain, and therefore has been erased from the Medical Register. He had prepared medico-legal reports in respect of holiday sickness claims from a firm of solicitors in which his wife was a salaried partner. He gave deliberately false answers to questions posed to him as an expert witness and he made diagnoses without proper evidence and without identifying the existence of a range of opinions.
The High Court judge said: “...he produced expert medical reports on an industrial scale.” Dr Bux wrote nearly 700 reports between 2016 and 2017 generating over £100,000 for Bux Incorporated Ltd, of which he held 55% of the shares and his wife 45%.
Holidaymakers sued alleging food poisoning. The solicitors, where the doctor’s wife worked, would make a claim on a conditional fee basis and instruct the doctor to write a report. At the County Court at Liverpool the judge said the reports were written by the appellant: “…on a boilerplate basis. They were superficial, unanalytical, devoid of any differential diagnoses, and were invariably supportive of the claim. They would generally conclude with the words (or words to the same effect): "I am of the opinion that the symptoms are due to infective gastroenteritis as a consequence of food poisoning. On the balance of probabilities, this was due to inadequate food preparation and food handling at the hotel..."
Dr Bux never wrote a report which was unfavourable to a claimant. The reports were sent to travel companies and then their insurers who would invariably pay up as the claims for damages were modest.
The case of Dr Bux is exceptional, but highlights the need for experts to always remember their duty is to the court and to tell the truth and not to put self-interest first. Insurers also need to be wary of seeing familiar names of experts who seem to always come up with the goods for claimants
Since 1994 Bond Solon have been at the forefront of improving the standards of expert witnesses in the UK through the provision of knowledge and skills based learning and certification. Find out more here