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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7620
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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I received a refusal letter, from the Nursing Midwifery Council,

Resolved Question:

I received a refusal letter, from the Nursing Midwifery Council, where the registrar states, "I am not satisfied that you have sufficient knowledge of English to ensure safe and effective practice. Although you have completed an academic IELTS examination and achieved the Minimum pass mark, as determined by the NMC, the test was completed on 4 April 2009.

I believe this is libelous, in the fact that I am Canadian, raised in an English household, educated in English and have spoken no other language. The mark I achieved on the ILETS was 8 out of 9 above the minimum requirement. I work in a hospital environment where it is crucial that I speak and understand English fully.This letter hurt me deeply as well as jeopardises my work position. Therefore, is this libelous?

Sincerely, XXXXX
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for your reply.
. In order to be defamatory (ie. Libel or slander), it must:-
1. Be a false statement
2. Communicated publicly (ie. To another person other than the defamor and the defamed
3. Cause damage to the person who is defamed.
I assume that the letter was addressed only to you and not disclosed to any other persons. Therefore you would not meet the second criteria above and any action would be thrown out on this basis unfortunately.
Whether the statement is untrue is obviously up for debate, the note that you have passed ILETS but that it was some time ago and then suggest that you do not have sufficient knowledge of English. It would be a point that you would have to prove at Court (sufficiency of English – though it appears to be perfectly fine – better than – on the basis of your writing here), but for example the UKBA is entitled to reject evidence of passing the ILETS if it has been the better part of 4 years since the test since the applicant for a visa took the exam.
You must also privately fund any defamation action because there is no legal aid to it.
Sorry it could not be better news, I’m sure it’s frustrating.

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Kind regards,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Although it was addressed to me, and forwarded to my advisor, does that not constitute, further communication?. I'm sure others inside the NMC also have access to this letter, hardening their thoughts regarding my English. The fact, the letter is false and has done damage, does not meet the criteria of libel, despite the above?
Expert:  Thomas replied 5 years ago.
Hi Bill,

If it was communicated to anyone other than you then this would meet the "communicated publicly" element of the criteria.

The difficulty you then have is the truth and damage element. So far as the truth element is concerned, provided that the person who made the statement did genuinely believe that you did not demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of English then this would be a defense for the them. If they believed it (even though you may have had a good command of English) then I should think that they would succeed in their defence.

It's not saying that you can't read/write English. She is just saying that you have not demonstrated this for their purposes because it would appear that the test is too old. Therefore there is enough uncertainty in the truth element that I would not suggest issuing an action at Court.

In terms of damage you must be able to demonstrate financial loss as a result of the statement. This is notoriously difficult to prove because the loss must flow directly from the statement.

Trust this clarifies, please click accept.

Kind regards,


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