Decision by specialist medical college to expel from fellowship training program

Lukac v The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists [2018] NSWSC 436 saw the plaintiff medical practitioner seek declarations that she was denied procedural fairness by the Appeals Committee of the College, that the decision of the Appeals Committee was void, and in the alternative an order setting aside the decision of the Appeals Committee and remitting the matter to be heard and determined by an Appeals Committee otherwise constituted and in accordance with law.

The plaintiff submitted, it was accepted by the court, that a determination of the question raised by the proceedings must principally be decided by a consideration of the contractual arrangements between the plaintiff and the defendant. Those arrangements were set out in the defendant’s Regulations and the Policy: [56]

The court held at [76] that the plaintiff therefore had a contractual right to have her application and appeal dealt with in accordance with the regulations of the defendant, including the right to procedural fairness. She had a right derived from the obligation of the Appeals Committee to give reasons for its decision to know that the Committee considered the argument she put forward, and if her argument was rejected, a right to know why it had been rejected by reference to the Policy.

The Appeals Committee simply expressed a conclusion in terms of the Policy without offering any relevant reasons for that conclusion, contrary to what the regulations obliged it to do: [80].

At [93] the court held that in addition to a declaration concerning the invalidity of the decision, a mandatory injunction should be ordered to require the Appeals Committee to consider the plaintiff’s existing appeal to that Committee in accordance with law.