New success for BMA judicial review on pensions suspension

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Last year, the British Medical Association (BMA) won a judicial review which overturned regulations that gave the UK Secretary of State for Health & Social Care the power to suspend the payment of pensions benefits to any doctor or NHS professional charged with certain criminal offences – but not yet convicted. This is in spite of the common legal maxim of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

Our Public Law & Regulatory team worked alongside 39 Essex Chambers to bring the judicial review on behalf of the BMA (you can read more about it here).

It has now been announced that 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.

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.’

This decision further confirms the victory achieved by the BMA for its members and all professionals under the NHS Pension Scheme in England and Wales.