Legal Updates

Regulatory - Nursing and Midwifery Council – Time Limits – Appeals

 

In the recent case of Janet Baines v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2012] EWCH, an appeal against a decision made by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (“NMC”) was dismissed by the High Court because the allotted time period in which to lodge an appeal had passed.

 

Background

  • The Appellant was struck from the Register of Nurses and Midwives after a hearing before the NMCs Conduct and Competence Committee, on 14 February 2012.
  • The Appellant sought to appeal before the High Court but the NMC applied to have the appeal dismissed. Her appeal was lodged on 19 March 2012.
  • At issue between the disputing parties was whether the appeal had been lodged beyond the expiry date.
    • The NMC posted notice of the decision to the Appellant on 17 February 2012.
    • The Appellant received the notice on 20 February 2012.

 

28 Day Period

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 (Article 29(10)), there is a 28 day period to appeal against a decision by the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee.

 

“An appeal must be brought before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the date in which notice of the order or decision appealed against served upon the person concerned.”

 

Issue

The issue in this case was when the period began to run. The Nursing and Midwifery Council Rules 2004 (rule 34(4)) state that a notice “shall be treated as having been served on the day after it was sent by delivery service or, where the notice has been left at an address, on the day it was left at that address.”

 

  • The Appellant argued that only business days should be counted, so that her appeal was lodged in time.

 

Outcome

  • Hickinbottom J ruled that the rules are “clear, beyond any sensible doubt” and that the words should have their usual meaning.
  • The notice was thus deemed to have been served on the next day (i.e. 18 February), meaning the 28 day period expired on 17 March 2012.
  • The appeal was dismissed.

 

What does this mean?

If your occupation falls within the NMC’s remit, you must be vigilant of important dates especially if you are looking to lodge an appeal against a decision. It is advisable to consult a solicitor as soon as possible in order to ensure compliance with the allotted time period.

 

© RT COOPERS, 2012. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

 

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