An attempt to bring a judicial review against the Ministry of Justice over the way MedCo was set up, brought by one of the major medical reporting organisations (MROs), reaches the High Court this week.
It comes after it emerged that a separate judicial review has been abandoned.
Earlier in the year Speed Medical won the right to have its application for permission heard in court after appealing an initial refusal made on the papers. It is a rolled-up hearing dealing with permission and, if successful, the substantive claim.
Speed’s challenges the Ministry of Justice’s decision that of the seven MROs presented to a solicitor after a search on MedCo, only one is a ‘tier 1’ provider, meaning it is a high-volume national MRO, like Speed.
Speed has said it supports the intention of the MoJ to break the financial links between solicitors and experts, and the accreditation of experts available through the MedCo portal, but the present system of allocation of MROs is unnecessary, ineffective and anti-competitive.
Meanwhile, a separate judicial review planned by a group of law firms and MROs has been abandoned. The group, represented by Manchester firm JMW, had argued that ministers failed to conduct an adequate consultation before announcing changes to the system for instructing experts, which it alleged were irrational and unfair.
Mark Jones, partner at JMW Solicitors, said: “Despite agreement on the continued merits of the action, those firms involved simply came to the conclusion that the costs which they would incur in pursuing the case were prohibitive.
“Ordinarily, that would have meant government being able to recoup its own costs from the agencies which had sought to challenge it. However, such a demand would have been strongly resisted and an agreement was reached which allowed all sides to walk away.
“Even if the action had been successful, it is now likely that MedCo itself would have remained and merely incorporated such changes as necessary to abide by a court ruling in our favour.”