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Aggravating and mitigating factors

Aggravating and mitigating factors may be taken into account and could include, for example:

Aggravating Factors

  1. Actual injury to an animal or human.
  2. Risk of injury to an animal or human.
  3. Dishonesty.
  4. Recklessness.
  5. Premeditated misconduct.
  6. Financial gain.
  7. Breach of confidentiality or client trust.
  8. The involvement of a vulnerable client.
  9. Sexual misconduct.
  10. Any relevant increased position of trust or responsibility.
  11. Misconduct sustained or repeated over a period of time.
  12. Conduct contravening advice issued by the RCVS, including the PIC and the Professional Conduct Department, or other appropriate authority.
  13. Blatant or wilful disregard of the role of the RCVS and the systems that regulate the veterinary profession.

This is not an exhaustive list of aggravating factors and, for example, a failure to observe any undertakings given to the PIC (or DC) might be an aggravating factor or could by itself give rise to a concern leading to referral to a DC hearing.

Mitigating factors may include:

  1. The circumstances of the incident, including the promotion of the health or welfare of an animal;
  2. No actual harm or any risk of harm to an animal or human;
  3. No financial gain;
  4. Single and isolated incident; and/or
  5. Decision taken without the opportunity for full reflection

A distinction can be drawn between circumstantial mitigation (relating to the specific events that are said to have occurred) and personal mitigation (relating to the veterinary surgeon’s character, professional career or personal circumstances).

NB for details of any of the cases referred to in this document, please contact the Professional Conduct Department (020 7202 0789 / profcon@rcvs.org.uk)