We want all participants at hearings to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity.

This page sets out some principles that we ask all participants in a hearing to follow at all times. They apply to panel members, legal assessors, the professional involved in the hearing, people giving evidence, people acting on behalf of the NMC or the professional, NMC staff and observers (including the press).

The principles follow our values of being fair, kind, collaborative and ambitious.

We hope they will help all those involved feel more comfortable during hearings, and help people to engage effectively and efficiently.

Principles for all participants

General expectations

Please be kind and respectful to other people during the hearing. This will create a better environment for all and help the hearing to run smoothly and in a timely way.

Hearings are formal proceedings. Participants in hearings should avoid informal comments or conversations. Those observing the hearing should be quiet and considerate when joining or leaving a hearing in session.

The panel plays an important role in managing the people appearing before it. The panel chair will intervene if they consider that someone’s behaviour isn’t appropriate. (See our guidance on Managing behaviour during hearings).

Allowing people to speak

It’s important that the people involved in a hearing are able to communicate as easily as possible to allow for a fair process.

If someone is talking, please let them finish before making your point or asking a question. If you need to raise something urgently, where possible please raise your hand as an indication to the panel chair and wait for the chair to ask you to come in.

Being inclusive

Everybody is different so please be sensitive and considerate to people’s individual circumstances. You may need to think about adapting your communication or approach to make sure people are properly included and can participate effectively.

Language

Try to use plain English and keep your language as accessible as possible. Very technical or legal language may be harder for people in the hearing to understand and should be avoided whenever you can.

Addressing people

It’s good to check how someone wants to be addressed, as they may want to be referred to in a certain way.

Time keeping and management

We appreciate the time people invest in attending a hearing and we want to use that time as effectively and efficiently as possible.

So we ask everyone at a hearing to respect each other’s time, by arriving on time at the start of the day, or when the hearing resumes after a break. We also ask that attendees provide realistic estimates to people involved in the hearing, so they can manage their time accordingly.

Principles for people questioning someone giving evidence

At hearings, the panel will often hear live evidence. If you’re questioning someone who is giving evidence, please be respectful and fair in how you ask your questions.

If the panel chair considers that someone’s questioning is preventing a fair and kind process, then they’ll interject. This may include:

  • asking questions in an aggressive, hostile or inappropriate manner
  • repeating a question when it’s already been answered
  • asking irrelevant questions.

If you think these principles aren’t being followed

If you think someone in a hearing isn’t following these principles, it’s best to raise it then as it may be the matter can be resolved.

If you’re still unhappy with how a participant has behaved, you can provide feedback or make a complaint online at our feedback and complaints page.