Regina (on the Application of Dr Harrison) v General Medical Council [2011] EWHC 1741 (Admin)

An appeal court does not have the power to extend statutory time limits for lodging an appeal where there is no express provision for doing so in the primary legislation.

The applicant, Dr Harrison, wished to appeal a decision made by a Panel of the General Medical Council to erase him from the Register after finding that his fitness to practise was impaired by virtue of a serious criminal conviction.

Section 40 of the Medical Act 1983 is among the enactments listed in Section III of Practice Direction 52, which stipulates a 28-day time limit for appealing against a decision. After an unsuccessful attempt to lodge an appeal without the relevant court fee or an exemption application earlier, Dr Harrison eventually lodged a valid Notice of Appeal and fee exemption application on 29 April 2010. However, it was lodged way beyond the period of 28 days provided by the Act.

Dr Harrison applied for an order extending the time for lodging his Notice of Appeal relying on CPR 52.6(1) and 3.1. Blake J dismissed the application, agreeing with the decision of Bean J in the case of Mitchell v The Nursing and Midwifery Council [2009] EWHC 1045 (Admin). Mr Justice Bean stated that he was bound by the decision of the House of Lords in Mucelli v Government of Albania [2009] UKHL 2 [2009]. The House of Lords held that, where a statutory provision fixes a time limit for the making of an appeal, the appeal court has no power to extend it under CPR3.1 or any other rule, unless the statute itself so provides.

Commentary

Legal advisors should note that where a right of appeal is granted by statute, the statute itself may make provisions regarding service and time limits, but they may also make provisions that vary from those contained in the CPR. Careful consideration must be give to Section III and other relevant CPR provisions but also the statute itself.

Given the strictness of this regime, perhaps regulatory bodies and the authors of the CPR guidance should consider drawing this to the attention of those who may wish to appeal a decision for the benefit of those who cannot afford legal representation.