17 December 2010

A day in court

On Friday, I attended a hearing in the Administrative court to address the question of whether the case brought by six psychotherapy and psychoanalysis practitioner groups should proceed to a full judicial hearing. HPC argued that the claimants were ‘out of time’ in legal speak, in other words they had not lodged their complaint within the timeframe for a judicial review. The Judge decided that, although as he put it “there was a great deal of common ground between the parties”, there was not enough to conclude the case at this stage and therefore it should proceed to the next stage, namely a full hearing. We can expect a delay of about four to six months before this hearing will be listed in the High Court. In the meantime, the HPC is committed to the process of finding ‘the common ground’ as Justice Burton directed.

What struck me about the exchange in court was that the claimant’s real argument is with the government, and not the HPC. We can and probably will continue to argue on points of law, about who did what and when and according to which process or guidance or directive, but the decision over statutory regulation is not and never has been a decision for the HPC. It is a decision for government. The frustration is that we are now involved in an expensive process which will not, in the end, solve this.

Since this work on regulation began, there has been significant progress both in working relationships and in the practical development of standards. In September, the UKCP invited the HPC to an education event for its members, something which would not have been possible earlier this year. There have been many other initiatives which suggest to me that the level of disquiet about HPC is subsiding, and the level of mutual respect and shared aspiration is increasing.

Anna van der Gaag
Chair HPC