In the recent case of Harrison v General Medical Council (GMC), Dr Harrison was convicted of serious criminal offences, including perverting the course of justice. Consequently, in February 2010 the GMC’s fitness to practise panel erased Dr Harrison from the register of medical practitioners.
Dr Harrison attempted to lodge a notice of appeal to the High Court against the decision but it was invalid due to a failure to attach the requisite fee.
A further notice of appeal was lodged in April 2010 but this was outside the 28 day time limit as required by section 40 of the Medical Act 1983.
The court held that the original appeal notice was invalid as it was not accompanied by the necessary payment. In addition, the second notice of appeal was outside the statutory time limit and the High Court had no power to extend the expressed period as it was bound by statute.
It was also held that the failure to lodge an appeal within time was due to actions of Dr Harrison and the court was unable to identify any reason why he could not have sent a notice within the required period.
In the circumstances, the appeal was dismissed.
This case is interesting, as on a first reading one would consider the appellant’s circumstances were such that an extension of time would be considered by the court as contemplated by rule 52.3 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
However, the court followed the decision in the case of Mucelli v Albania which ruled that the CPR did not apply where there was a clear and unqualified statutory limit as per the primary legislation. In the circumstances, the CPR failed to assist the appellant despite the argument that an extension of time was in the interests of justice.