BULLETIN: Professional regulatory law update - Review of September 2014
Welcome to Blake Morgan's latest edition of the professional regulatory law update, our update of the important case law and news in the field of Professional Regulation.
This month has seen a few key decisions in the healthcare regulatory arena. The Court of Appeal reiterated its authority to assert its own terms and conditions during an application by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for an extension of an interim suspension order (R (on the application of Nursing and Midwifery Council) v Wright) The Court also dealt with the awkward issue of a registrant receiving negligent legal advice during regulatory proceedings and whether this resulted in a procedural impropriety (Brew v The General Medical Council).
Continuing the focus on the role of the legal representative, a further notable non-healthcare regulatory decision was reached in Brett v Solicitors Regulation Authority or the "Nightjack" case as it has become popularly known. The Divisional Court considered the relationship between a solicitor and the Court and the conflict this may have with the duty of legal professional privilege. Although the Court found that the two duties were not incompatible in this case, the appeal was allowed to the extent that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had erred in determining that the appellant had "knowingly" misled the Court and instead concluded the appellant had "recklessly" misled the Court.
Please click on the links to view the recent key regulatory cases and press releases:
R (on the application of Nursing and Midwifery Council) v Wright 
EWHC 3078 (Admin)
The Court refused to grant the Nursing and Midwifery Council's request for a six month extension of an Interim Suspension Order. This was on the grounds that there had been a considerable delay in the proceedings and no due consideration of workable interim conditions of practice was given. Robinson J also makes an interesting point that as the respondent's case was referred to the Health Committee, it was clearly the NMC's intention that the respondent would be able to practice again as a striking off order is not an available sanction to that Committee.
Brett v Solicitors Regulation Authority 
EWHC 2974 (Admin)
It had not been open to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, having disavowed a finding of dishonesty, to find that the Appellant had knowingly allowed the Court to be misled, as such a finding was akin to dishonesty. The correct finding was of recklessly allowing the Court to be misled.
Brew v The General Medical Council 
EWHC 2927 (Admin)
The Court heard an appeal of a decision made by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ["MPTS"] of the General Medical Council ["GMC"]. The appeal was brought on the ground of procedural unfairness resulting in an unfair outcome. The appellant submitted that he had received negligent advice from his Barrister in regards to disputing the dishonesty element of the charges brought against him. It was further argued that this had led the MPTS to find that the appellant had not demonstrated sufficient insight and therefore they proceeded with a "disproportionate" erasure sanction. The Court considered whether the advice received could be considered unreasonable (as per the standards of Wednesbury) which consequently had led to a procedural unfairness. The Court found in favour of this first ground, but dismissed the appeal as it was believed the MPTS had considered the case fully and the negligent advice had not prejudiced the outcome.
Our Professional Regulatory team highlights key press releases from September 2014, including the GMC, NMC, GDC, GPhC, CILEx, General Chiropractic Council, Department of Health and Care Quality Commission.