The landmark decision in Merrix v Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust [2017] 346 (QB) (article here) will not be appealed for commercial reasons

With the impact of Merrix being so significant, a further appeal was widely expected. In a somewhat surprising move however the NHS has elected not to do so.

While the initial assumption may be that there was concern the appeal would be unsuccessful and that they lacked the will to continue pursuing the matter, an alternate reason has been put forward for the lack of an appeal.

The NHS already has an appeal listed for May in the matter of Harrison v Coventry NHS Trust. The matter is not linked to Merrix, however it does relate to the same fundamental question, namely to what extent do approved/agreed figures within a budget bind the court at detailed assessment?

Numerous commentators anticipated that if Merrix were appealed it would be listed alongside Harrison, which would therefore need to be postponed. Keen for Harrison to be heard as soon as possible Merrix appears to have been somewhat cast aside.

Just a few short months after the judgment in Merrix, we have found that by and large the case is being treated as good law by paying parties. This relative ‘peace’ would be turned on its head were a contrary decision found in Harrison. Our prediction however is a consistent finding, following which the arguments will commence over what amounts to ‘good reason’ to depart from approved budget figures.