I own a dental practice and recently took on a self-employed associate dentist. We did not sign any contract, and I had to ask her to leave within 3 months because of serious issues with her conduct and clinical practice. I have paid her almost £15,000 to date but I wish to retain any further sums that might be due owing to concerns of neglect etc. NHS work is guaranteed for 1 year, but I have agreed to pay her any sums that may be due by early September. She has not produced an invoice. She is threatening to issue a county court summons for non payment even though I have assured her that I am entitled to reasonably retain fees for up to a year because o the NHS rules, and even though we have no contract in place. She has also taken patient details off the premises - which is an offence. Can she reasonably make such a claim?
State/Country relating to question: United Kingdom
Hello and thank you for your question, which I will be happy to assist you with. Please let me know what exactly is she owed?
The maximum is around £8,000 - but there are many patients already requiring rectification.There have also been incidents of her
Claiming twice for treatments performed, which we need to double-check (she left us at the end of April)
Sorry you may have misunderstood my question - what do you actually owe her? What payments is she still awaiting from you? In terms of reasons for these payments, not amounts
The lack of written contract may be a potential issue here. It would have been implied in the contract that she is entitled to be paid for any work completed during her employment with you. Of course there would also have been an implied term that this payment is on the condition that the work has been carried out to a reasonable and satisfactory standard. The main issue is whether you are entitled to withhold the money now, or if you would have to pay her and then pursue her for any potential liabilities resulting from refunds/compensation.
There is a potentially valid argument that if work is guaranteed for a year, a proportion of the fees may be retained to cover any potential issues that arise within that period. However, this will only be a small proportion and you are unlikely to be able to withhold all or the majority of the money she is owed.
Of course if she has made incorrect claims, such as claiming twice, these need to be adjusted and taken into account.
As far as the current situation stands, there is nothing stopping her from claiming I'm afraid. She can take this all the way up to a hearing and try her luck. So you may be stuck having to defend a case, which by the time it is concluded, you may already be in a position to pay her as agreed (I refer to your comment that you are paying her in September)
Expert in UK Employment Law
Hi, This is just a quick follow up to see how you are getting on and to check if my advice has been helpful in dealing with your query? I look forward to hearing from you.Regards, Ben
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