Martine v South East Kent Health Authority: CA 22 Mar 1993

The authority applied ex parte under the 1984 to the magistrate for the revocation of the plaitiff’s nursing home licence. It was supported by a written statement of the reasons for making the order made by the health authority’s chief nursing officer. The order cancelling the registration was made by the magistrate and the nursing home was perforce closed with financial loss to its proprietor. The licence was later re-instated. The proprietor sought damages.
Held: There was no cause of action in negligence for the alleged careless investigation by an area health authority towards a registered nursing home leading to an urgent application under section 30 for cancellation of the registration. The authority had no duty of care was not owed.
Dillon LJ said: ‘it was not just or reasonable . . that there should be a duty of care because the adversarial system of litigation has its own rules and requirements, which operate as checks and balances’ and that if in any circumstances the checks and balances should fail ‘negligence as a tort could not be, and should not be, invoked as the remedy.’
Leggatt LJ said: ‘The prescribed procedure is fast, and interposes only a sole justice of the peace between a health authority in pursuit of an order under the Act and the owner of a nursing home. But the fact that the safeguard is slight does not entitle a litigant to make good a supposed deficiency in the statutory procedure by recourse to the tort of negligence.’


Dillon LJ, Leggatt LJ


Ind Summary 22-Mar-1993, (1993) 20 BMLR 51, Times 08-Mar-1993


Registered Homes Act 1984 30


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedJain and Another v Trent Strategic Health Authority CA 22-Nov-2007
The claimant argued that the defendant owed him a duty of care as proprietor of a registered nursing home in cancelling the registration of the home under the 1984 Act. The authority appealed a finding that it owed such a duty.
Held: The . .
CitedBowden and Another v Lancashire County Council CA 16-Apr-2002
The claimant had succeeded in her appeal against the cancellation of her registration as a child minder, and now sought damages for negligence in using unnecessarily the emergency procedure leading to damage to the claimant’s reputation and . .
CitedTrent Strategic Health Authority v Jain and Another HL 21-Jan-2009
The claimants’ nursing home business had been effectively destroyed by the actions of the Authority which had applied to revoke their licence without them being given notice and opportunity to reply. They succeeded on appeal, but the business was by . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Licensing, Health Professions

Updated: 26 October 2022; Ref: scu.83452