Since 1992 Clark Willis have been representing and supporting the needs of those suffering with mental health issues, including those detained in hospital and those living in the community.
Our specialist Mental Health Lawyers are
1. Mr Amrit Jandoo
2. Mr Jonathan Willis
3. Mrs Victoria Burrows
We typically represent clients on appeals to the Mental Health Review Tribunal, (MHRT) and to the Hospital Managers for their release from detention. We also represent clients with their challenges in the High Court by way of Judicial Review. We are able to assist clients in many other ways too; for example we are able to assist in negotiating greater leave periods from hospital, exploring alternative placements, and exploring the appropriateness of current treatments and medication.
Sadly not many lawyers undertake this highly specialized work, but we are one of the few specialist firms in this area who are contracted to the Legal Services Commission (LSC). This means that for applications to the MHRT all our work is free to you as we are paid by the LSC. It is more than likely that any other work we do will also be free, but we will check that for you before we start, so that you are able to say whether or not you want to proceed.
If you are liable to detention under the Mental Health Act, you may want to appeal against that and to do so you must appeal to the Mental Health Review Tribunal. Making that application can be difficult and worrying, which is why we feel it is essential to consult a specialist solicitor in this complicated area of law.
We will visit you and answer all your questions about the process and what is involved. Then, if you decide to apply to the MHRT we will represent you at the hearing.
Contact Victoria Burrows on (01325) 28 11 11 or e-mail: email@example.com.
We have set out in more detail some information on the most commonly raised issues. This is not intended to be a detailed exposition of the law, rather a general guide on common issues. There is no substitute for getting specific and tailored advice for your own case, and we would advise you consult us on specific issues as soon as you can.
- What is the purpose of the Mental Health Act?
- What is a Section 2?
- What is a Section 3?
- What is a Section 37?
- What is a Section 41?
- What is a Managers' Meeting?
- What is the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT)?
What is the purpose of the Mental Health Act?
The provisions of this act shall have effect with respect to the reception, care and treatment of mentally disordered patients, the management of their property and other related matters.
There are 4 categories of mental disorder:-
1. Mental Illness
2. Mental Impairment, which means impairment of intelligence, associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct
3. Severe Mental Impairment
4. Psychopathic Disorder, which means a persistent disorder of disability of the mind, associated with seriously irresponsible conduct.
What is meant by being ‘Under Section’
This is a term used by many to describe a person being taken into hospital and detained there against their Will. In fact you can be ‘under a section’ and living at home or with family or friends, but remaining liable to be detained in hospital and still under the care of your psychiatrist. The important point of being under section is that the power to decide whether a person is to take medication, or whether they should be allowed leave from the hospital, or what treatment they are to have, is largely passed to the psychiatrist who is looking after them.
Some people however, who are under a section, are quite happy to remain in hospital voluntarily but wish the legal framework of the section to be removed, arguing that it is not needed. On occasions their psychiatrist agrees with them but when they don’t an appeal can be made to the Mental Health Review Tribunal for an independent review to be undertaken.
What is a Mental Health Review Tribunal
The Mental Health Review Tribunal is a judicial body, and when it hears appeals from persons detained against their will, three people sit on the panel. Hearings are almost always held at the place where the person is detained, which is usually a hospital or other nursing facility.
The president of the panel is a Solicitor, Barrister or Judge. Judges usually tend to deal with the more complex cases involving persons detained under a Restriction Order. The panel also has a medical member who is a Consultant Psychiatrist and who will personally see a patient before the panel meets to hear any appeal. The final member is known as the Lay member and is usually a person who has had significant past experience in working in the Mental Health field and typically they might come from a social work background. All three members of the panel are appointed by the Ministry of Justice and will have no connection with the authority which has imposed the section.
When a person attends the hearing they are usually asked questions by the panel and they have the opportunity to say what they wish. If we are appointed to represent a person at such a hearing we spend a great deal of time preparing the case and dealing with the relevant issues so as to be able to present it logically and succinctly to the panel. We prepare in advance the questions we wish to ask you and the evidence we think you should bring out to the panel. We also have the opportunity to ask questions of all the witnesses who attend the hearing which is usually a nurse who deals with their care, a social worker or care co-ordinator with knowledge of the case and of course the psychiatrist or their assistant doctor, sometimes known as an SHO. When everybody has had the opportunity to ask questions, we then make a submission to the panel on the law and its application to the case in hand.
The MHRT can
1. Discharge patients from hospital
2. Decide on delayed discharge or conditional discharge
3. Recommend leave of absence and transfer to another hospital
4. Issue directions regarding procedural matters
When the panel have made its decision, they will tell you what it is and also set it out in writing.
What is a Section 2?
A lot of people each year are admitted to hospital having suffered their first episode of a mental illness. This could be for something like depression, or mania, or schizophrenia. They may also be admitted because it is a recurrence of an earlier illness, but whatever it is the reason for the admission is so that an assessment can be carried out to determine whether there is a mental illness, what the nature and degree of it is, and whether it is necessary for that person to remain in hospital to get medication and or treatment for it.
Sometimes a person is admitted for only a week or two before the section is removed, whereas in other cases the section might run its full term of 28 days.
The main features of a Section 2 admission are
- It allows for compulsory admission and detention for up to 28 days for an assessment or an assessment followed by treatment
- It is not renewable
- A person may not be detained for the full 28 day duration
- Whilst patients can be treated, treatment cannot be forced upon them.
- When the 28 days comes to an end the psychiatrist in charge must either discharge that person from the section or impose a Section 3 Treatment Order.
Usually called a 'Treatment Section', this section allows for compulsory detention for up to 6 months for treatment. The main features are
- Renewable in the first instance for 6 months and then every year thereafter
- Treatment section - can be forcibly treated
- Patient can be given medication without their consent for initial period of 3 months. Thereafter if patient continues to refuse consent, second opinion Doctor is needed to confirm that medication is necessary
Usually called a 'Hospital Order, this section operates similarly to a Section 3. The main features are;
- Known as a 'Hospital Order' it directs the admission of a patient to a named hospital from a criminal court
- It is an alternative type of sentence
- It allows for compulsory detention for up to 6 months initially with a renewal of up to 6 months and thereafter every year
When a hospital order (s37) is made, an order restricting discharge can be made under a section 41. It is often known simply as a '37/41'. The main features are;
- Restriction orders are applied to more serious persistent offenders and because of the nature of the offence, the Home Office are involved.
- Usually they are relevant when the public need to be protected from serious harm?
- They are very restrictive, and a patient cannot be granted leave without the Home Office approving it
What is a Managers' Meeting?
The Non-executive Directors of the hospital Board of Directors, will hold a meeting if a patient requests one or whenver a section is renewed. They will also refer cases to the MHRT, if a patient has not had an appeal hearing within the first 6 months detention and 3 years have elasped.