Dennis Hamill recently acted for the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care in a successful challenge to a decision of an NMC panel in the High Court in Northern Ireland.

Dennis was instructed to advise the PSA at an early stage acting as legal adviser to the section 29 case meeting and subsequently drafting the Notice of Appeal, dealing with all reviews, drafting submissions and appearing before the Court at the hearing of this appeal.

The PSA challenged a decision of a panel of the NMC to impose a 9-month suspension order on the registrant arguing that this was insufficient for public protection given the grave nature of the misconduct which had been admitted, the conviction for a serious offence and the limited insight shown by the registrant. The appeal focused on the panel’s consideration of the assessment of seriousness, the approach to the guidance provided to panels and the panel’s view of aggravating and mitigating factors amongst other things.  The Court was asked to consider whether the panel had properly grappled with whether the registrant’s conduct raised questions of fundamental incompatibility with remaining on the register.  

The NMC supported the appeal. The Registrant took no part in the matter after his representatives came off record for him.

The Court confirmed that whilst the Civil Procedure Rules do not apply in Northern Ireland the approach to an appeal by the PSA would be essentially the same as it is in England and Wales. The case would be dealt with by consideration of the papers submitted to the Court and by applying the well-known formula adopted in Ruscillo.  

In this case the Court had no hesitation in agreeing with the submissions on behalf of the PSA that the only appropriate sanction was a striking off order. The Court considered that this was an obvious case for it to substitute its own decision as to sanction rather than to refer the matter back to another panel of the NMC.

The judgment can be found here:

Dennis was instructed by Michael May of Edwards & Co, Solicitors, Belfast.

Dennis Hamill is a door tenant at 5SAH and a member of our Professional Discipline and Regulatory Team. Dennis also practises in Northern Ireland in both professional discipline and regulatory alongside his broad civil practice. Dennis mainly represents regulated individuals in the medical and healthcare professions.