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Medical aid scheme’s attempt to change its name hits brick wall

Staff Reporter

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed a bid by a medical aid scheme established over 40 years ago to change its name.

Compcare Wellness Medical Scheme, set up in June 1978, has been trying to change its name to Universal Medical Scheme.

The scheme is administered by Universal Health Care Administrators, a part of the Universal group of companies, and wanted to take advantage of the Universal brand which it considered to be stronger than its own.

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), through its registrar, however turned down Compcare’s name-change application after concluding the new name was likely to mislead the public.

The medical aid provider successfully appealed to the CMS Appeal Board which ordered the registrar to accept the name change, subject to conditions it imposed to mitigate the misleading effect.

The registrar and the CMS then took this decision on review, resulting in the Judge J Fabricius, in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, upholding their application and setting aside the Appeal Board’s order.

This prompted Compcare to approach the SCA in Bloemfontein.

On Monday this week, Judge C Plasket dismissed the appeal with costs.

The judge concluded that the Appeal Board’s decision could not stand and that the court below was correct to set it aside.

“The registrar had no lawful power to approve Compcare’s proposed change of name once he had concluded that it was a name that was likely to mislead the public,” Judge Plasket said.

“He also had no lawful power to approve such a change of name subject to conditions . . .

“As a result, the Appeal Board exceeded its powers by purporting to order the registrar to approve a name that was likely to mislead the public, subject to conditions.”

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