MM v Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust [2013] UKUT 107 (AAC), [2013] MHLO 25

The patient had been visited by an independent doctor but did not rely on a report from him. The hospital argued that the tribunal should infer that the doctor had been instructed to prepare a tribunal report, that this report was not favourable to the patient, and that it concurred with the clinical team's opinion. The patient appealed, arguing that (in light of the hospital's argument) the panel should have recused themselves for there to be a fair hearing. (1) In relation to the hospital's argument: (a) as a matter of practical reasoning, it could never succeed (invalid inferences); (b) as a matter of law, it may not be permissible (requiring inferences to be drawn from other inferences); and (c) it failed to take into account the context: 'The First-tier Tribunal always has medical evidence from the clinical team. The medical member of the panel will have interviewed the patient. And the patient may have produced medical evidence in support of the application. I cannot imagine any realistic circumstances in which a tribunal, having such evidence, could properly rely on the failure by a patient to produce a report as a basis for drawing inferences that would affect the outcome. The tribunal’s duty, and the only proper course, would be to decide on the evidence available rather than speculate on possible explanations of why the report was not produced.' (2) The arguments for recusal were rejected so the appeal was dismissed.

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