(Port of Spain, Trinidad):- The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today gave reasons for allowing an appeal
in the case of The Medical Council of Guyana v Jose Ocampo Trueba. The CCJ also ruled that the Crown
Office Rules of 1906 were no longer applicable and that Guyana’s Civil Procedure Rules 2016 applied to
all civil proceedings. In September 2017, Dr Ocampo filed an application in the High Court of Guyana
seeking judicial review of the Medical Council’s refusal to grant his application for full registration as a
medical practitioner. In his application, he stated that he was unaware of the reasons for the refusal and that
he had not been given an opportunity to be heard prior to the refusal.
In July 2017, Dr Ocampo applied for full registration as a medical practitioner. He was previously granted
institutional registration in 2013. The Medical Council, after a thorough investigation, found that Dr
Ocampo had been practising medicine in breach of the terms of his institutional registration, which
permitted him to practise only at a stated hospital. The Medical Council had written to Dr Ocampo about
this breach on 19 June 2017 and 21 July 2017 and asked that he offer any comments he wished to make. Dr
Ocampo did not respond to either of the letters. The Medical Council also published an advertisement in
two newspapers of wide circulation in Guyana, notifying the public that Dr Ocampo was licensed to practice
medicine only at the stated hospital.
In challenging the Medical Council’s refusal of his application for full registration, Dr Ocampo filed an
application for judicial review in the High Court. Judicial review is a court proceeding where a judge
assesses the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. Dr Ocampo sought interim orders
for the Medical Council’s refusal to be set aside based on the procedures in the Crown Office Rules 1906.
These rules required that the interim orders be granted and thereafter the Medical Council should give its
reasons why the orders should not be made final. The Acting Chief Justice dismissed Dr Ocampo’s
application on the basis that judicial review was not an appropriate recourse as section 19 of the Medical
Practitioners Act stated that persons who wanted to challenge a decision of the Council should appeal to a
High Court judge in chambers.
Guyana’s Court of Appeal ordered that the matter should be remitted to the High Court because the judge
should not have automatically refused the application but should have considered whether judicial review
was appropriate in the circumstances of the case. The Medical Council then applied to the CCJ for special
leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision.
The CCJ agreed with the Court of Appeal that the right to appeal to a judge in chambers did not totally
preclude an application for judicial review but said that as a rule of thumb, the safe route to challenge a
decision of the Medical Council of Guyana was to appeal to a judge in chambers. The CCJ nevertheless
allowed the appeal and upheld the decision of the Acting Chief Justice albeit on a different basis. The Court
indicated that in seeking judicial review Dr Ocampo should have, in any event, followed the new civil
procedure system as created by the new Civil Procedure Rules and not the old system that applied under
the Crown Office Rules 1906 which the Court said was no longer applicable. The Court said that the
implication of its decision was that pending, and especially unheard, applications, brought or proceeding
otherwise than in accordance with the new rules will now need to be revisited by the courts.
The Court also noted that it was “highly improper” for Dr Ocampo to conceal from the High Court judge
the fact that he had been operating in breach of his licence and that it was dishonest of him to have falsely
stated that he was never the subject of disciplinary proceedings and unaware of any reasons why the Medical
Council could have refused his application. The Court said that this was in breach of his duty to make a full
and frank disclosure.
In the reasons for the Court’s decision, the CCJ commended the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the
attorneys for the parties for the speedy resolution of the matter which took less 6 months from start to finish.
The full reasons for the Court’s decision can be accessed via the CCJ’s website at