No appeal for pensions suspension ruling

by Peter Blackburn

The court of appeal has denied the Government permission to appeal a ruling which overturned regulations giving the health secretary the power to suspend doctors’ pensions when charged with a criminal offence.

Location: England
Published: Friday 12 June 2020

The BMA won a judicial review against the Government last year, who wanted to retain the powers, despite investigations potentially lasting for a lengthy time period and potentially resulting in charges being dropped or the doctor being acquitted in court.

The court of appeal rejected the Government’s application to appeal the case, with the judge referencing the public sector equality duty, the right to a fair trial and protection from discrimination.

Possible prejudice

With regard to the right to a fair trial, the judge, Lady Justice Nicola Davies, said ‘the effects of the suspension power were long-term, indefinite and sometimes permanent’ and were capable of causing ‘irreversible prejudice that is incapable of remedy in later substantive proceedings’.

She added: ‘The appellant overstates the potential of the repercussions of the judgment which do not provide a compelling reason to grant permission to appeal and, in any event, are insufficient to justify consideration by the appellate court of grounds of appeal when the judge’s conclusions on the issue of public sector equality duty present a bar to the success of any appeal in this application.’

The BMA will now be seeking recovery of legal costs from the Government.