Applications for adjourning or postponing a hearing

Reference: HEA-15a

Last Updated 28/07/2017

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When is an adjournment or postponement considered? 

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Parties to the case can apply for a postponement or adjournment, or a Chair or Committee can decide if a postponement or adjournment is needed.

If we have not sent a formal notice of hearing to the nurse or midwife, the decision to postpone a hearing is made by a senior member of our staff.

If a notice of hearing has been sent, the decision to postpone a case is made by a Chair of the Committee.1 Where necessary, we will arrange for a preliminary meeting to consider the application and any representations from the parties in support or opposition to the application.

The decision to adjourn proceedings is made by a panel of the Committee considering the allegations against the nurse or midwife and can be made at any stage during the hearing.2

Decision making

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In deciding whether or not to grant a postponement or adjournment, the decision maker should consider all relevant factors, including the following.

  • The public interest in the quick disposal of the case. There is a public interest in considering fitness to practise allegations swiftly; protecting the public, and maintaining confidence in the professions and us as a regulator. Delaying a hearing may also mean that witnesses find it harder to remember their evidence. However, there may also be a public interest in delaying the hearing. For instance, if we need more time to get further evidence that will provide the Committee with a full understanding of the concerns when they make their decision.
  • The potential inconvenience. Postponing or adjourning a hearing may cause inconvenience to people who have made themselves available to attend and give evidence on the original hearing dates and may be unable to attend a hearing at a later date.
  • Fairness to the nurse or midwife.3 Postponing a hearing may allow a nurse or midwife who is unable to attend original hearing dates to attend a future hearing and give their evidence in person. For example, due to short term ill health or other commitments that were arranged before they were informed of the hearing date.

Where consideration is being given to granting an adjournment, the panel should only make the decision to adjourn if no injustice is caused to the parties, and after hearing representations from us and the nurse or midwife, or their representative (where present) and after taking advice from the legal assessor.4

If an adjournment is granted, the panel shall also consider whether to impose an interim order. The panel will ask for representations from us and the nurse or midwife, or their representative (where present). The panel will deliberate in private and announce the decision, providing reasons. We will send a notification of the decision to the nurse or midwife.5

1 Rule 32(1) of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004 ('the Rules')
2 Rule 32(2) of the Rules
3 Rule 32(4) of the Rules
4 Rule 32(2)(a) and (b) of the Rules
5 Article 31(14) Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001