A doctor who diagnosed hundreds of personal injury cases for a law firm where his wife was a partner has been banned from practice.
Dr Zuber Bux failed to declare the link with Preston firm AMS Solicitors over the two years in which he received 400 cases through the firm. These instructions, mostly for holiday sickness claims, were his principle work in relation to medico-legal reports.
A medical tribunal held in October heard allegations that in four highlighted cases he also made a diagnosis of food poisoning without sufficient evidence and without considering an alternative diagnosis. It was also found that the doctor falsely told defendant firm Kennedys that he had recently checked the arrangements with AMS were appropriate, when in fact he had last checked several years previously.
The tribunal concluded that Dr Bux’s actions had been misleading, dishonest and financially motivated, with the only appropriate sanction being immediate erasure of his licence to practise.
The tribunal concluded the holiday sickness claims misconduct ‘involved dishonesty that was covered up; it involved lying to solicitors; false declarations to the court; deceptive expert reports; and it was financially motivated’.
The tribunal heard Dr Bux had effectively stopped medico-legal work in 2012 after concerns were raised about his wife’s position within AMS. He restarted the work in 2016 and said he was content there was not a conflict of interest as his wife was then in the RTA team and there existed a ‘Chinese wall’ to ensure no cross-over between his work and his wife’s.
It was found he knew that a conflict of interest was likely and this was at the forefront of his mind. He knew that if he had declared his personal relationship with an AMS partner, it would have rendered his reports subject to challenge by defendants, bringing an end to what the tribunal described as an ‘easy and lucrative’ income stream.
The tribunal also heard Dr Bux had been subjected to criticism over the validity of his reports by His Honour Judge Gregory, when one holiday sickness claim went to Liverpool County Court for a preliminary hearing. The judge had deemed the medical report to be inadmissible and said it lacked depth, substance or ‘anything passing for objective expert analysis’.
Dr Bux submitted that he was struggling to keep up with his work and was considering cutting it down. On the issue of potential conflict, he had contacted the Medical Defence Union in 2011 and in 2016 felt reassured by the ‘Chinese wall’ and the fact his wife would not stand to gain in any way from the outcome of his report. His wife was not criticised in the tribunal judgment and there was no suggestion of wrongdoing on her part.
In a statement, AMS said it had always fully complied with its professional obligations to clients and will continue to do so. The firm noted the court had found no conflict, and in any case clients were always aware in any matter where Dr Bux was instructed that his wife worked at AMS.
The statement added: ‘AMS has been providing high quality legal services under the strict regulation of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority for over 15 years. AMS are also a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and are passionate about achieving compensation for injured clients. AMS has a longstanding reputation for honesty and transparency. There has never been a regulatory finding against AMS and/or any of its solicitors.
‘We can confirm that AMS instructed Dr Bux as an independent medical expert on some personal injury cases where his medical experience made it appropriate to do so. This firm’s dealings with Dr Bux were not at all connected to the employment of his wife, Sehana Bux, as a salaried partner of this firm. Mrs Bux was never involved at all on any matter where Dr Bux was the medical expert. She left this firm by agreement on 13 September 2019. Her departure is not at all connected to the matters before the MPTS.’