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GP and Dental Practices 3C

Dental Practices

Dental Practices

Whether you are an individual practitioner with a single NHS practice, or a mixed practice corporate provider, we can advise you on any of the regulatory and commercial concerns that dental practices may face.

Sale & purchase of practices

The decision to buy or sell a dental practice will be a huge step in the professional life of most dentists. Whether you are buying or selling a practice, this is an area where taking experienced advice will ensure that you avoid the potential pitfalls.

Our commercial healthcare solicitors have the specialist expertise to guide those unfamiliar with the processes involved, to ensure that any transaction moves as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling your practice, please email a member of the team to arrange an initial discussion and receive a copy of our guide to the process.

Partnership/expense sharing agreements/shareholder agreements

Dental practices come in all shapes and sizes. Unless the practice is wholly owned by a single individual, then the most common forms are partnerships, expense sharing arrangements and shareholders in a corporate body (usually a limited company).

All too often, where practices are owned by more than one individual, the basic formal arrangements between the owners are not recorded in writing. Discussions may well be had about how the practice will be run and terms agreed verbally only. Unfortunately, what has been agreed may be recollected in different ways and important issues (such as what should happen on the retirement of one of the principals) may not have been covered or covered inadequately.

Proceeding on this basis massively increases the risks of a costly dispute between the owners. The cost in time and effort involved in fighting such legal claims can be financially and emotionally exhausting and an unnecessary distraction to patient care.

We advise all co-owners to consider formally recording their arrangements in a tailor-made agreement drafted with the benefit of advice. We have the experience and knowledge of the dental sector to prepare the relevant documentation to suit your individual circumstances.

Practice premises issues

Whether your practice occupies premises as “owner-occupiers” or under a lease (i.e. paying rent) is clearly of enormous significance to a practice.

For NHS practices, your NHS contract will specify the location for the performance of the contract. There is no right to unilaterally change premises and permission from NHS England must be sought (and can be refused). For private practices, there may be considerable “goodwill” tied up with the location of the premises, which could make moving difficult or disruptive.

We have experience of advising owner-occupiers and intended owner-occupiers on:

  • refinancing (changing lenders or loan terms)
  • sale and leaseback arrangements

We advise practices occupying leasehold premises as tenants on:

  • issues arising between the landlord and the practice
  • changes to the terms of the lease (including amending the parties)

We regularly assist practices with:

  • premises sharing arrangements with third parties
  • CQC/contractual requirements for dental premises
  • planning issues

Associates’ agreements/employment matters

Whether your practice requires standard contracts for staff, or particular arrangements for associates, instructing solicitors with a deep understanding of the unique business practices of dentistry ensure that you will receive the right advice. We are able to assist on the full range of contracting and employment law issues that impact on practices, from preparing contractual documentation to conducting Tribunal matters, where required.

Disputes between co-owners

Disputes between co-owners are much less likely if appropriate agreements are put in place before any partnership or expense sharing arrangement is finalised. However, whether there are agreements in place or not, disputes and differences of opinion can arise which require resolution. In such circumstances, it is vital specialist advice is taken which encompasses a full understanding of the regulatory and legal framework in which dentistry is performed, as well as comprehensive experience of dental disputes as a specialised form of business dispute.

We have experience of conducting a variety of mediations, arbitrations and high court litigation between dental business owners covering issues touching on partnership disputes, property ownership matters and the management and organisation of the practice.

We are able to offer commercial and cost-effective legal advice for those facing difficulties with the other principals in the practice.

Talk to your Key Contacts

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Not only has CQC dramatically increased its enforcement action capability, but in its latest consultation, “Our next phase of regulation: consultation 2”, CQC proposes to get even tougher.

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