The High Court has found that the MedCo system restricting users' access when they have not complied with the qualifying requirements is sufficiently robust. In addition the dispute resolution procedure in the Portal is satisfactory.

In R (on the application of Med Chambers Ltd and Prime Medicals Ltd v MedCo Registration Solutions Ltd [2017] EWHC 3258 the High Court refused to grant the Claimants permission to seek judicial review of MedCo's system when suspending an medical reporting organisation (MRO) from the Portal.

Audit reports showed Med Chambers and Prime Medical had not complied with the user agreement and there were eight breaches of the qualifying criteria by each Claimant. In addition the Claimants argued the dispute resolution procedure outlined in the user agreement was an inadequate remedy as MedCo did not consider the submissions made by the Claimants and therefore did not take its obligations seriously.

In a victory for MedCo, the High Court held the contractually agreed procedure provided in the user agreement was an adequate remedy. Firstly, the Claimants had failed to provide evidence in support of their allegation that MedCo did not take their obligations seriously. Secondly, the Court disagreed with the Claimants that the escalation procedure being allowed to take up to 90 days is too slow.

The decision is a step in the right direction for MedCo as the organisation has been faced with a number of problems since it was set up in 2015. In October 2016 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published new rules and qualifying criteria for companies wanting to join the MedCo system as an MRO, in order to prevent exploitation of the system after MedCo has discovered four 'tier-one' providers had registered 70 new companies between them.

In addition, last year we reported on MedCo suspending a total of 155 shell companies and issuing 337 warning letters to users for their non-compliant behaviour when using the online system.

MedCo have survived this skirmish, but a new battle line over fees is likely to be drawn up. The system recently caused outrage amongst medical experts following their decision to increase the registration fees from £75,000 to £150,000 for top tier medical organisations. Tier 2 and below providers will now have to pay £20,000 to join the system or renew their licence, up from £15,000 in previous years. The decision has been challenged by the Confederation of Medical Agencies who has called for urgent meetings with MedCo and the Ministry of Justice stating a 100% increase places an unfair burden on organisations and is incapable of justification. The fee increases are intended to come into effect in April 2018.