Re C  MHLO 48 (FTT)
Remote pre-hearing examinations are practicable (1) A salaried tribunal judge initially refused to allow a pre-hearing examination (PHE) because the coronavirus Pilot Practice Direction states: "During the Covid-19 pandemic it will not be 'practicable' under rule 34 of the 2008 Rules for any PHE examinations to take place, due to the health risk such examinations present." (2) Having treated the rule 46 application for permission to appeal as a rule 6 challenge, a different salaried tribunal judge decided that: (a) the practice direction is subordinate to the rules and overriding objective; (b) in video-enabled hearings with a full panel a PHE is practicable by that means; (c) hearings and PHEs should be conducted remotely as, even if the hospital would allow access, the tribunal will not put its members at risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus; (d) in this case, the PHE would take place by video link on the morning of the hearing. [First-tier Tribunal decisions are not binding.]
Thanks to Ben Conroy, solicitor for the patient, for sending the decision.
The practice direction referred to is: Pilot Practice Direction: Health, Education and Social Care Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) (Coronavirus, 19/3/20).