The Tribunal's policy is that a reference made under s68(7) (triggered by the revocation of a CTO) will be treated as having lapsed if the patient subsequently is placed on a new CTO (see Guidance: References made under section 68(7) Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended)). When the patient's representative argued that the case should be heard, the Tribunal treated that letter as the patient's own application. (1) The policy is unlawful: (a) whether the reference has lapsed depends on the nature of the reference, which is a matter of statutory interpretation, so neither the overriding objective nor the policy is relevant; (b) the subject matter of a reference under s68(7) (the duty to consider the s72 criteria) is not related to the circumstances that trigger it (the revocation of the CTO) so survives the change in circumstances; (c) the policy is inconsistent with s68(3)(c) (no six-month reference if revocation reference has been made) which would not be necessary if the revocation reference lapses. (2) The power to treat a letter as a Tribunal application is only appropriately exercised for the applicant's advantage, not potential detriment; it is not permissible to override an unequivocal indication by the solicitor to the opposite effect, especially if to do so would deprive the patient of the chance to make an application later should discharge not be obtained on the reference. (3) If the hospital managers had been represented, the judge would have wanted to know why it took 12 days to complete the simple referral form. (4) The Tribunal Procedure Committee will be consulting on rule changes to make it easier to handle CTO revocation cases in which the patient does not 'co-operate': in the meantime, the judge suggested that proceedings could be stayed, or hearings conducted in patients' absence.
Before: UTJ Edward Jacobs
Roger Pezzani (instructed by Blavo & Co) for the applicant
The respondent did not appear and was not represented
Not on HMCTS website at time of writing