Case Commentary: Vasanta Marni Suddock v The Nursing and Midwifery Council [2015] EWHC 3612 (Admin)

Posted by Christopher Pataky on

Though the wider impact of the judgment is likely to be limited due the fact specific and complex nature of the background to the case, it does serve to underline that disciplinary proceedings are adversarial in nature and that fair access to justice will not ordinarily require the regulatory authority to financially support a registrant in providing a response to the allegations.  

The case serves to highlight that though there is a high threshold for the Court to interfere with decisions which have been made primarily upon the assessment of witness credibility, the Court will interfere where it considers such an assessment to be wrong within the context of the wider evidence.  In this case it is of particular note that the Court was of the view that the Committee had failed to appreciate the wider evidence that had appeared to support the Appellant's assertion that allegations had been raised against her in bad faith 'to ruin her hitherto unquestioned professional reputation' and had placed 'too much reliance on the demeanour of witnesses'. In addition, in undertaking its assessment of the evidence the Court concluded that in undertaking its assessment, the Committee had failed to take account of the likelihood of such alleged events having occurred. The judgment highlights the importance of a decision maker testing the witness evidence against all of the evidence known to it when assessing credibility and before considering the demeanour of the witness as this is likely to be far a far more reliable indicator of 'where the truth lies'.

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A Barrister within the Professional Regulatory team in London. Christopher provides advice and advocacy and undertakes investigative work for a range of regulators.

Christopher Pataky
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