The Royal Court has allowed the Medical Specialist Group’s appeals against the substantive decision and penalty decision by the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority.
In the judgement of 10 March 2023, the Bailiff Richard McMahon concluded: “I am satisfied that the MSG has established that the GCRA has reached a decision that is unreasonable and/or based on material errors as to the facts.”
He has directed the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority (GCRA) to pay the legal costs of the MSG.
Jon Buckland (pictured), chief executive of MSG said: “We welcome this decision from the Royal Court, overturning the competition law action taken against the MSG by the GCRA.
“This has been a very long and painful process. Throughout, our motivation has been to protect the emergency and elective healthcare that we provide to the people of Guernsey under our contract with the States.
“For more than four years now we have had to expend considerable amounts of time, effort and resources, alongside considerable legal fees, to defend ourselves against the GCRA’s actions. Throughout, we have cooperated fully with the GCRA, meeting with them and answering their multiple requests for information and materials, including at times when we were under severe pressure due to the Covid pandemic.
“From the outset, we explained why we had restrictions in our contracts and why these were appropriate. We provided evidence to show the difficulties we have in recruiting into Guernsey, and how long the process can take, particularly given the extreme shortage of doctors in the UK and globally. Our contractual provisions ensure that we can attract high calibre consultants across a wide range of specialisms to come and work in Guernsey and provide expert medical care in our community.
“We are delighted that the Royal Court has upheld our challenges and overturned the GCRA’s findings against us and the substantial fine that the GCRA had sought to impose. This is a comprehensive, robust judgment which carefully sets out the errors in the GCRA’s processes and reasoning. We now look forward to focusing on our primary purpose, which is to provide outstanding patient-centred services and improve the health of the community that we serve.’
A GCRA spokesperson said: “The Authority is considering the judgment and taking advice on the merits of its reasoning given there are important principles involved. Until this review is complete the Authority is not in a position to comment further at this time.”