Eastwoods’ team of experienced defence lawyers is regularly involved in applications for injunctions, Judicial Review and appeals, particularly in respect of decisions by regulatory and disciplinary tribunals. Our solicitors frequently advise clients on the merits of challenging unfair or unlawful decisions at a local level (e.g employing bodies) or in the First Tier Tribunal, Upper Tribunal, High Court or Court of Appeal. Our expertise as judicial review and appeal lawyers allows us to guide clients through these complex and lengthy proceedings to achieve the best outcome.
Time Is Of the Essence
If you have been at the receiving end of a decision which you think is/was unlawful and should be challenged, time is of the essence. The courts impose strict deadlines for appeals and Judicial Reviews and will rarely give you any leeway if you are late in commencing proceedings. With appeals, the time limit is usually 21 days, although if you are appealing a decision by a body such as the GMC or GDC, it is 28 days. For Judicial Reviews the deadline is 3 months after the decision you wish to challenge, although the rules make clear that the claim should be commenced as soon as practicably possible and leaving it to the last minute is rarely advisable. Putting together legal challenges of this nature is time-consuming and far from straightforward, so it is essential that you seek advice as soon as possible. Contact us today and we will act promptly and efficiently to ensure your rights are protected.
Appeals Against Decisions of Regulatory Bodies
Eastwoods has years of experience of defending professionals facing regulatory proceedings before bodies such as the GMC, GDC and HCPC. In that context, we have advised numerous doctors, dentists and other professionals in relation to appeals against decisions made by their regulators or employers, leading to appeals at a more local level (e.g. within the framework of NHS hospitals’ internal disciplinary procedures), in addition to statutory appeals in the High Court and appeals to the First Tier Tribunal. Our involvement starts from advising as to the merits of pursuing an appeal (seeking advice from experienced Counsel where necessary); and where there are merits, representing clients in the appeal itself. We have a proven track record of succeeding in such appeals, notable examples of which include:
Appeal against a GMC Fitness to Practise Panel finding of serious professional misconduct, relating to research in the late 1990s, which looked into a possible link between the triple vaccine for MMR and the occurrence of autism and bowel disease in young children.
Appeal against the decision of a GMC Fitness to Practise Panel to erase the name of a consultant psychiatrist from the medical register, where it was concluded that the rules of natural justice precluded members of specialist tribunals, including experts, from giving evidence to themselves which the parties had no opportunity to challenge. It was held that the Panel had erred in relying upon expertise which it did not possess and reaching conclusions on particular issues without first identifying those issues or giving the parties an opportunity to adduce evidence or make submissions on them.
Appeal of decision of the General Dental Council Professional Conduct Committee in relation to responsibility for keeping adequate sedation records.
Appeal against a decision of the FHSAA to uphold the decision of a PCT to remove a GP’s name from its Performers’ List. The judge allowed the appeal on the grounds that the FHSAA had acted unlawfully in not calling the PCT’s key witness/complainant to give oral evidence.
Judicial Reviews and Injunctions
Eastwoods has considerable experience of pursuing injunctions (to prevent a course of action being taken) and Judicial Reviews (to reverse erroneous decisions). Often, we are able to resolve the issues in question in pre-action correspondence. In other words, if we have advised a client that an application for an injunction of Judicial Review is likely to succeed, more often than not we are able to secure the desired result by writing a letter to the other side which sets out our arguments and effectively threatens to take formal action – and that often leads to us securing the result without the need for court proceedings, which is usually in our client’s best interests.
Where necessary, however, we will pursue court proceedings, and again we have a proven track record of success in doing so, working with highly-experienced Counsel from leading sets of chambers. Notable cases include:
Successful judicial review (and simultaneous statutory appeal) of a decision of the GMC’s Interim Orders Panel (IOP) to suspend a doctor on the GP Vocational Training Scheme, pending the outcome of a criminal prosecution. Now widely cited in support of the need for tribunals considering interim orders to provide proper reasons for their decisions.
High Court challenge in relation to the fairness of a doctor being referred for an NHS capability hearing, under the “Maintaining High Professional Standards” (MHPS) framework.
Eastwoods regularly represents clients in Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court trials, and has a proven track record of securing acquittals for clients facing serious allegations. We are also well-placed to assist you with an appeal if you are convicted of an offence, particularly given our relationship with barristers widely-regarded as leaders in the field. As with any other appeal, time is of the essence if you wish to challenge a conviction, so contact us as soon as possible and we will give you the advice and support you need.
In addition to challenging convictions, there are also occasions when the Crown/prosecution might consider the decision of a Crown Court judge to be wrong. An example might be where we have succeeded in convincing the judge that there is “no case to answer”, meaning the case is thrown out at the close of the prosecution case, without the defendant needing to present their case at all (a result we have achieved for several clients over the years). It is open to the prosecution to challenge such decisions in the Criminal Court of Appeal, and we can assist you in resisting any such challenge. An example of our success in that regard was in the case of R v Rudling  EWCA Crim 741, which followed the successful acquittal of a GP charged with Gross Negligence Manslaughter
Telephone: (020) 3137 4800