Court Upholds Legitimacy of Interim Suspension and Extended Civil Restraint Order in Dr. Onwude v General Medical Council

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2807 (Admin)
Judgment on


In the case of Joseph Loze Onwude v General Medical Council, presided by Her Honour Judge Kelly at the High Court, King’s Bench Division, Administrative Court, Leeds, various legal issues were carefully examined. These included the legitimacy of an Interim Orders Tribunal (IOT) suspension, the legality of secondary legislation, the prospect of an extended civil restraint order against persistent litigation by an individual, and the underlying principles guiding such judgments.

Key Facts

Dr. Joseph Loze Onwude, a consultant gynaecologist, challenged an order made by the Interim Orders Tribunal suspending his registration pending allegations of practicing without a licence and patient confidentiality breaches. The General Medical Council (GMC) also sought an extended civil restraint order against Dr. Onwude to prevent him from issuing unmeritorious claims and an extension of the interim suspension. Dr. Onwude, having a history of litigations deemed without merit, contested both the IOT’s suspension and the authority of secondary legislation underpinning the suspension.

Reliance on Secondary Legislation

The crux of one argument was whether regulations, not personally endorsed by a monarch but rather made through delegated legislation, can be considered binding law. Dr. Onwude contended the IOT’s reliance on the General Medical Council (Licence to Practice and Revalidation) Regulations 2012 was invalid as they were “not law.” Judge Kelly negated this argument, affirming the authority of the IOT to apply these regulations.

Extension of Interim Suspension

The correct approach to an application for extending an interim suspension order was referenced to the case of General Medical Council v Hiew. It established that the court should consider the seriousness and nature of allegations, evidence of risk to patients, the progress of the case, and the balance of prejudice to the practitioner. The court found that the suspension was justified because the allegations, if proven true, would pose serious risks.

Extended Civil Restraint Order (CRO)

For an extended CRO, the litigant must have persistently filed claims or applications totally without merit. Dr. Onwude’s history was indicative of this pattern. An extended CRO was warranted to hinder vexatious litigation pursuits that needlessly consumed the court’s and the charity’s resources.

Rights of Appeal & Restoration

The legal proceedings also clarified the right to appeal to the Registration Appeals Panel within a specified timeline regarding licensure decisions and outlined the opportunity for Dr. Onwude to apply for the restoration of his license under the 2012 Regulations.


The court firmly rejected Dr. Onwude’s claim that the secondary legislation underpinning the GMC’s actions was not lawful. Consequently, the challenge against the IOT’s decision to suspend his medical registration was dismissed as totally without merit. Moreover, the GMC’s applications for an extended interim suspension order and for an extended CRO were both granted, with the CRO set for a duration of three years.


This case demonstrates the court’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the medical profession and the lawful regulatory framework governing it. Secondary legislation was validated as a legitimate exercise of administrative authority. Furthermore, it affirmed the judiciary’s role in preventing the misuse of legal processes through mechanisms like CROs. The rulings rendered provide an instructive example for legal professionals confronted with similar arguments and circumstances, highlighting the boundaries of permissible legal challenges and the courts’ willingness to curb litigious abuse.