Legal precedent and medical ethics: Some problems encountered by the general medical council in relying upon precedent when declaring acceptable standards of professional conduct

  • Russell G. Smith
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 49)


In 1858, legislation was enacted in Britain which created a statutory body entitled the General Council of Medical Education and Registration of the United Kingdom [13]. This title, which was subsequently described by Viscount Addison in the House of Lords as “a cumbersome name” the initials of which “have often befogged many of us in the past” ([9], p. 913) and which was later abbreviated to General Medical Council or “G.M.C.” [14], contains reference to the two principal functions of the Council: the determination of whose name should be permitted to be placed upon the Medical Register; and the determination of whose name should be removed from the Register. The G.M.C. performed the first function by setting and monitoring educational standards for doctors; it performed the second by holding judicial, disciplinary inquiries. In exercising these functions, the Council, through its constituent bodies and Committees, indirectly became involved in the declaration of acceptable standards of professional conduct and medical ethics.


Medical Ethic Medical Practitioner Executive Committee Professional Conduct Acceptable Standard 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publsihers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell G. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.the Criminology Department of the University of Melbourne

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