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|DA v Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (2019) UKUT 348 (AAC)||
Proceeding in absence of solicitor and patient
The tribunal refused to adjourn the case of a CTO patient who had not attended the hearing, then the solicitor left the hearing because she felt unable to represent the patient in those circumstances. (1) The tribunal's initial decision to proceed in the patient's absence referred to rule 39(1) (whether the party had been notified of the hearing or reasonable steps had been taken to notify the party of the hearing, and whether it was in the interests of justice to proceed with the hearing) and rule 39(2)(a) (whether the patient had decided not to attend the hearing or was unable to attend the hearing for reasons of ill health) but not rule 39(2)(b) (whether a rule 34 medical examination of the patient been carried out or was impractical or unnecessary). However, given the assumption that, as an expert tribunal, it will have got the law right, it was more likely than not that the tribunal decided it was impractical to carry out an examination. (2) The tribunal had not considered making an appointment under rule 11(7), but this was unnecessary as there was no indication that the patient had withdrawn her instructions or lacked capacity. (3) When the solicitor departed, it was incumbent upon the tribunal to make a fresh assessment under rule 39(1) as to whether it was in the interests of justice to proceed with the hearing. Its reasons did not mention the departure and it was unlikely that the tribunal had carried out such an assessment; even if it had done so, the lack of any explanation would have rendered the reasons inadequate. (4) The matter was remitted to the First-tier Tribunal for a re-hearing by a differently-constituted panel.
|JG v Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (2019) UKUT 187 (AAC)||
Non-legal research by judge
Judicial summary from gov.uk website: "Mental Health First-tier Tribunal - Judicial Bias - Apparent bias - Breach of Natural Justice - Procedural Irregularity. Where a First-tier Tribunal judge undertook non-legal research by accessing a court of appeal judgment in respect of the appellant, did this lead to a presumption of bias and automatic disqualification? Did it lead to a conclusion of a real possibility of bias? Whether so doing amounts to a procedural irregularity leading to a breach of natural justice in that it rendered the hearing unfair. In the circumstances appertaining there can be no presumption of bias leading to automatic disqualification. On the facts of the case there was no real possibility of bias. Undertaking the non-legal research was a procedural irregularity but on the facts the hearing was not unfair."