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Administrative Court rules jurisdiction of adjudicator is matter for the Court

DATE: 02 Aug 2018

The Administrative Court has held that the jurisdiction of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, the university student complaints body, is a matter for the Court rather than the OIA subject to rationality review in B v OIA [2018] EWHC 1971 (Admin).

B was a student at the University of Leicester Medical School, but shortly before he completed his degree was deemed unfit to practise by the Fitness to Practise Committee on the basis of evidence about his conduct. He had brought a contractual claim against the University, in which he challenged the procedural fairness of the FTP Committee process. That claim settled with a Tomlin Order. 

Subsequently, B submitted evidence he had gathered to the University which put the substantive conclusions of the FTP Committee into doubt. The University refused to re-open the FTP decision and B complained to the OIA. The OIA ruled it did not have jurisdiction to review the complaint as, by reference to its rules, B had already brought proceedings (the contractual claim) which were related to “the subject matter” of the complaint. 

The OIA contended that the question of whether the contract claim was related to the subject matter of the complaint was a matter for it, subject to rationality review. The Court rejected this argument, and agreed with B, that as a matter of jurisdiction it was for the Court to determine. 

However, on the facts of the case, the Court rejected B’s argument that the contractual claim (which focussed on the procedure of the FTP Committee decision) and the complaint (which attempted to challenge the substance of the decision) were sufficiently different. Therefore, whilst the matter of jurisdiction was for the Court, the OIA did not have jurisdiction on the facts. 

Leon Glenister represented the Claimant. He was instructed by Helen Gill of John Ford Solicitors.