The Court of Appeal of Victoria has rejected the claims of a doctor who was seeking judicial review of the suspension order concerning his registration.

The claimant, a Victorian general practicioner, had been banned from practising medicine after the Medical Board of Australia had determined that, during the COVID-19 outbreak, the doctor had been issuing fake vaccination exemptions and disseminating misinformation about the virus.

According to the Board, the decision was determined by the reasonable belief that the doctor’s conduct “posed a serious risk to persons” and, therefore, required immediate action to protect public health and safety. Therefore, they suspended the doctor’s registration according to Sections 156(1) and 157 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009.

The doctor opposed this decision in Court. He contended that the Board had acted ultra vires because it had adjudicated on his “professional misconduct”, a matter beyond its jurisdictional powers. Therefore, the Board should have addressed the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Moreover, he claimed that the suspension of his registration could no longer be considered an interim measure for the protection of public interests, as it was still lasting.

As the court of first instance rejected his claims, he sought leave to appeal before the Court of Appeal of Victoria (VSCA). He argued that, since the court of first instance had excluded that the Board had ascertained his professional misconduct, then the Board had no reasons to suspend his registration. The VSCA, however, underlined how the claimant’s argument relied on a false premise, as the primary judge had actually found that the Board’s decision to take immediate action under Section 156 did not involve findings about professional misconduct.

The claim was thus rejected.

Reference: Hobart v Medical Board of Australia [2023] VSCA 270.

Full text of the decision available at en