Blake Morgan's Professional Regulatory bulletin - review of May 2016
Welcome to Blake Morgan's latest edition of the Professional Regulatory Law Update, which reviews all of the important case law and sector news from May 2016.
There were three particularly significant cases, all of which are well worth a read, particularly if you are a supporter of Legal Chairs and their ability to provide legal advice to panels during deliberations without having to call together the parties.
In another good month for those acting on behalf of regulators, the Okpara NMC case was an example of Administrative Court support for an increase in sanction to a striking-off on review of a suspension where allegations of dishonesty had been found proved and insight was still lacking.
As an added extra this month please click here to read our colleague Jon Belcher's briefing on 'Preparing for the New Data Protection Rules', which I hope you will find to be an informative introduction to the package of reforms that will transform Data Protection laws for the EU when the implementation period ends in May 2018. The Article includes a section on what you may want to do now to prepare. If only we knew whether we will actually be in the EU when that date comes around!
I hope you are enjoying this very British summer weather. At least the future of that is not at risk on 23 June.
If you have any comments regarding the e-bulletin we would very much like to hear from you.
Please click on the links to view the recent key regulatory cases and press releases.
R (on the application of The British Medical Association) v General Medical Council  EWHC 1015 (Admin)
Although the appointment of legally qualified chairs is already a well-trodden path for some regulators, this decision by the Court of Appeal will no doubt be welcomed by those regulators who are considering amending their own rules in order to secure the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of FtP hearings.
The exception allowed for in paragraph 6(b) and the circumstances in which it will be 'necessary' for chairs to inform the parties of advice will usually be case specific, however the unease about the provision will be an important reminder that any decision regarding the question of necessity will be heavily scrutinised.
Okpara v Nursing and Midwifery Council  EWHC 1058 (Admin)
This decision confirms a NMC review panel's ability to impose a new and more severe sanction at its discretion. Further, where allegations of dishonesty have previously been found proven, a review panel is able to impose a striking off order, irrespective of whether or not a registrant has been suspended for two years prior.
A striking off order does not interfere with a registrant's Article 8 rights and although Article 1, Protocol 1 may be engaged, proportionality is a recognised criterion by which to judge a sanction whether or not the convention rights are engaged.
Mulholland v Nursing and Midwifery Council  EWHC 952 (Admin)
This case appears to suggest that a panel is not required, as recent authorities have suggested, to give increasingly more detailed reasons for their decisions. This case also confirms that a panel is not required to address every single facet of every piece of evidence, only those facets and pieces of evidence which prove, or fail to prove (as the case may be), the charges against the registrant.
Accordingly, the panel is entitled to accept evidence even where it is uncorroborated.
Key press releases include those from the: Bar Standards Board, HCPC, GMC, NMC, and The Law Society.