The High Court has delivered an important judgment on the imposition of interim orders.
In MXM v General Medical Council  EWHC 817 (Admin), Mrs Justice Steyn allowed the doctor’s application challenging an interim suspension order imposed on him.
She held that the Interim Order Tribunal’s (the IOT’s) decision to make an interim suspension order had been wrong. The IOT’s evaluation of risk to patient safety and the public interest, and of the proportionality of the nature and duration of the order, had been flawed. She concluded that on a careful analysis of the evidence, the risk presented by the doctor was not such as to have rendered it proportionate to impose an interim suspension order. She also concluded that the IOT failed to provide adequate reasons for its decision.
This decision is important for a number of reasons:
- It contains a comprehensive outline of the case law relating to interim orders.
- It includes a helpful summary of the law and the approach to applications for anonymity in these proceedings.
- It reiterates the importance of reasons for interim order decisions, while recognising the limitations of a reasons challenge.
- It contains a careful analysis, post-Beckwith, of those matters which are properly of regulatory concern, and those which are not.
Perhaps the key reminder to take from this judgment is that proportionality is paramount when considering an interim order. This requires a careful look at the nature and the context of the regulatory concerns and the cogency of information supporting them. Where a matter could be potentially serious, but there is limited information about it, this must form part of the proportionality consideration, and may ultimately mean that the threshold for an interim order is not reached.
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