In the case of Nursing & Midwifery Council v Borry Jatta (2009) the NMC appealed the decision of the High Court that a failure to notify Mr Jatta (J) a former nurse of a disciplinary hearing via email invalidated its decision to strike him off the register.
The NMC advised J by letter that a disciplinary hearing was likely to occur sometime between August and October. J requested the hearing take place in September owing to him being abroad until 15 July. J asked to be contacted by email but the caseworker declined, stating the NMC only sent correspondence by post owing to confidentiality. J advised he would be unable to provide an address until his return, but failed to do so until 27 August. In the interim, the NMC dispatched a notification of hearing (NOH) to J’s last-known registered address.
How applicable this case is to the other professional bodies will depend on how their rules are drafted. The NMC rules state the NOH must be served on the registered address and the registrant is under an obligation to keep the NMC informed of when their address changes.
The Court of Appeal decided that, whilst the NMC could have sent an email alerting J to the date of the hearing, a failure to do so did not flout the rules or amount to procedural irregularity. The rules only required evidence that all reasonable efforts were made to serve the NOH, and the NMC complied by posting the NOH to J’s last-known registered address. The judges said J had ample opportunity to notify the NMC of his new address, but failed to do so. It was not necessary for the NMC to go beyond what was required by the rules. Reasonable efforts did not extend to sending emails.