The High Court judgement was handed down on 21 July 2021 in the case of Hughes v Rattan [2021] EWHC 2032 (QB).

The Claim was against Mr Rattan, the former owner of a dental practice at which the Claimant alleged she had received poor treatment. Three out of four dentists who had seen the Claimant were self-employed. The fourth dentist was an employee of the dental practice for whom vicarious liability had already been accepted.

The Court was required to determine whether Mr Rattan was also liable for the acts or omissions of the three self-employed dentists by virtue of vicarious liability or a non-delegable duty of care.

Historically, where a dentist has been self-employed and acted negligently but subsequently has been impossible to track down or did not have the correct insurance in place, victims of the poor treatment were left unable to recover compensation for the harm they had suffered.

The High Court held that the relationship between Mr Rattan and the three self-employed dentists was sufficiently comparable to employment that it was fair to hold him responsible for their acts and omissions. It was also held that he owed a non-delegable duty to patients treated in his practice.

This case represents a significant change in the law and should help to ensure that victims of dental negligence have access to justice.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected clinical negligence, one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options, including a formal complaint and a legal claim. There is no initial charge for discussing this with us and we will talk you through your options, including how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).”