Drilldown: Resources

A summary of the coronavirus resources can be found here: Coronavirus resources.

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Resources > Type: Coronavirus resource

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Resource Type Sentence Abstract Date
Alex Ruck Keene and Rosie Scott, 'The COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Bill and the Mental Capacity Act 2005' (39 Essex Chambers, 25/3/20) Article Coronavirus resource

Impact of coronavirus on operation of MCA

This article contains information under the following headings: (1) The Coronavirus Bill; (2) Non-Statutory Guidance; (3) Guidance from the Court of Protection; (4) Advance care planning; (5) Commentary.

Alex Ruck Keene et al, 'Rapid response guidance note: Testing for COVID-19 and mental capacity' (4/5/20) Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus testing and capacity

"The Court of Protection team has been asked to advise on a number of occasions as to the legal position in relation to testing for COVID-19, especially as testing (a) starts to be more generally available; and (b) is increasingly been rolled out as mandatory in certain settings. What follows is a general discussion, as opposed to legal advice on the facts of individual cases, which the team can provide. It primarily relates to the position in England in relation to those aged 18 and above; specific advice should be sought in respect of Wales and those under 18."

Alex Ruck Keene, 'COVID-19 and MCA - first guidance out' (Mental Capacity Law and Policy, 19/3/20) Article Coronavirus resource

Article about coronavirus guidance mentioning MCA

This article contains brief comments on the following: (1) DHSC, 'Responding to COVID-19: the ethical framework for adult social care' (19/3/20); (2) HM Government and NHS, 'COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements' (19/3/20).

Alex Ruck Keene, 'Public health restrictions and capacity' (Mental Capacity Law and Policy, 29/3/20) Blog post Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus public health restrictions

"Two sets of regulations brought into force in the past week have radically changed the legal landscape in England & Wales, effectively placing the population under severe restrictions (which the Daily Mail might even characterise as house arrest) for their good, and the good of society. This post looks at them through the prism of the law relating to those with impaired decision-making capacity; it also looks at through a similar prism at a part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which is not (yet) in force, but is likely to come into force shortly,"

Bar Council, 'Chair of the Bar sets out concerns to MoJ, HMCTS, the Legal Aid Agency, the senior judiciary, the Bar Standards Board and the Inns of Court' (18/3/20) Letter Coronavirus resource

Bar Council coronavirus statement

The Bar Council is "calling for a suspension of all in-person hearings across all jurisdictions, save in very exceptional circumstances where a video link or phone hearing cannot accommodate the interests of justice" for an initial 30-day period.

Bar Council, 'Coronavirus advice and updates' (March 2020, updated periodically) Web page Coronavirus resource

Bar Council coronavirus guidance

This web page contains information and links under the hearings: (1) Bar Council guidance; (2) Bar Council statements; (3) Bar Council, LPMA and IBC advice bulletins; (4) HMCTS updates; (5) Legal Aid Agency updates; (6) General government guidance.

March 2020
BASW, 'Information and support for AMHPs, AMHP leads and Principal SWs on the role of AMHPs during the Covid-19 pandemic' (25/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

AMHP coronavirus guidance

The introduction to this 11-page document states: "This information has been prepared by BASW, with support from the Approved Mental Health Professional Leads Network and the Chief Social Workers office to provide up to date information on the AMHP role as the country responds to the Covid 19 pandemic." This is version 1. Check the BASW website for updates.

Care Quality Commission, 'COVID-19: Interim Methodology for Second Opinions' (Dear Colleague letter, 20/3/20) Letter Coronavirus resource

CQC coronavirus procedure for SOADs

The summary stated in the letter is: "(1) We are asking mental health services to provide a summary of the patient’s current issues to CQC when submitting a second opinion request, which SOADs will use instead of visiting the hospital to examine care records. (2) Consultations with professionals, including with the responsible clinician, will be undertaken by telephone or video (Skype or Microsoft teams). (3) Following telephone consultations, we will ask services to support patients who agree to speak with SOADs to have access to telephones or technology to support a video call with the SOAD. (4) SOADs will not be asked to post original copies of certificates. We encourage services to accept electronic copies of certificates and act on that. The Government may lift the requirement for a paper copy, and we will issue further communications once this is confirmed."

Celia Kitzinger, 'Remote justice: a family perspective' (Transparency Project, 29/3/20) Blog post Coronavirus resource

Critical lay view of remote COP hearing

This article is written from the perspective of the daughter of the patient in the video hearing in A Clinical Commissioning Group v AF [2020] EWCOP 16B.

Conroys Solicitors, 'Listing of community hearings' (press release, 6/5/20) Press release Coronavirus resource

CTO hearings being listed again

It is understood that the order which postponed community hearings is no longer in force (the order stated that it was not feasible or practicable for a community patient to attempt to participate in a telephone or video hearing) and that the tribunal secretariat is working through the backlog.

Court of Protection, 'Additional Guidance for Judges and Practitioners arising from Covid-19' (The Hon Mr Justice Hayden, 18/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Further COP coronavirus guidance

(1) This guidance contains the following key messages (paraphrased): (a) hearings of less than 2 hours will be by telephone, but longer hearings will proceed unless the judge decides otherwise; (b) all practitioners must consider the range of options, including Skype and telephone conferences; (c) if directions hearings cannot be dealt with by agreement then a remote hearing should be sought; (d) every sensible effort to alleviate the pressure on court staff should be made; (e) further use of Skype beyond the current limited circumstances is being considered. (2) The guidance answers various questions in relation to: (a) acceptance of electronic signatures; (b) notification of P; (c) interim appointment of professional deputies; (d) service by email; (e) scanned documents and electronic bundles; (f) capacity assessments undertaken via video. (3) A "Core Working Group (COVID-19)" including judges and representatives of the (legal) profession will be set up to look at ongoing interim solutions.

Court of Protection, 'Court User Group Update' (HHJ Carolyn Hilder and Amrit Panesar, 21/5/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

COP update

This letter to court users deals with the court's performance and activities during the coronavirus outbreak and some of the work being done to assist practitioners, under the headings: (1) Hearings; (2) Filing of form COP20s; (3) Electronic filing of P & A deputy applications; (4) Performance.

Court of Protection, 'Dear Colleagues letter' (Mr Justice Hayden, 23/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

HIVE group and 2m separation at court

The "HIVE" group has been established, the objective being "to continue to refine our approach to dealing with the Court’s business and to seek to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible". It consists of: The Vice President; The Senior Judge, HHJ Hilder; Sarah Castle, the Official Solicitor; Vikram Sachdeva QC; Lorraine Cavanagh QC; Alex Ruck Keene; Kate Edwards; Mary Macgregor, Office of Public Guardian; Joan Goulbourn, Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of Justice. All those who attend court should keep 2m separation from others at all times.

Court of Protection, 'Further Guidance for Judges and Practitioners in the Court of Protection arising from Covid-19' (Mr Justice Hayden, 24/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

COP guidance on remote hearings and serious cases

(1) The guidance on remote hearings is now: "as from today no hearings which require people to attend are to take place unless there is a genuine urgency and it is not possible to conduct a remote hearing." (emphasis in original) (2) Genuinely urgent and life/death cases will be identified and prioritised in the usual way, but if any difficulty arises the VP's clerk may be emailed.

Court of Protection, 'Letter about Hive group' (Mr Justice Hayden, 4/5/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Information about Hive group

This letter sets out the aim and constitution of the Hive group, with particular focus on: (1) property and affairs; (2) welfare cases in the context of deprivation of liberty; (3) "community DOL" orders under COP DOL11; (4) transparency. The HIVE mailbox (hive@justice.gov.uk) can be used to raise coronavirus issues which do not relate to specific cases.

Court of Protection, 'Remote access to the Court of Protection guidance' (Mr Justice Hayden, 31/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Detailed COP remote hearing protocol

This 20-page document confirms that no COP hearings which require people to attend are to take place unless there is a genuine urgency and it is not possible to conduct a remote hearing. It includes a template case management order, and sets out sets out operational protocols governing remote hearings under the following headings: (1) General; (2) Legislative framework; (3) Judicial access to audio/visual conferencing platforms; (4) video/visual Conferencing: (a) Cloud Video Platform MoJ/HMCTS; (b) Skype for Business; (c) Microsoft Teams; (d) Zoom; (e) FaceTime; (f) Lifesize; (5) Audio/Telephone; (6) Security; (7) Transparency; (8) Transcription/recording of the hearing; (9) GDPR; (10) Attendance of P at the remote hearing; (11) Litigants in Person; (12) Witness Evidence; (13) Electronic Bundles; (14) Use of Interpreters and Intermediaries; (15) Orders and Service; (16) Legal aid funding.

Court of Protection, 'Visits to P by Judges and Legal Advisors' (The Hon Mr Justice Hayden, 13/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

COP coronavirus guidance

This guidance from the Vice President of the Court of Protection states that "visits should only be made to P where that is assessed as absolutely necessary", that "[a]lternative arrangements should always be considered first, such as telephone FaceTime and Skype conferencing", and that "[v]isits to care home are to be strongly discouraged" (emphasis in original). Judges should discuss any potential visits with the Regional Lead Judge, and keep informed of the advice on the judicial intranet which is reviewed daily.

CQC, 'CQC has made changes to Mental Health Act complaints process' (11/5/20) CQC guidance Coronavirus resource

Complaints procedure

The CQC are prioritising MHA complaints from or about currently-detained patients; other complaints "will be reviewed, but may be paused during the coronavirus outbreak".

CQC, 'CQC sets out next steps to support adult social care during the COVID-19 pandemic' (15/4/20) Press release Coronavirus resource

Support for adult social care providers

This document deals with (1) Personal Protective Equipment; (2) coronavirus testing procedures for staff; (3) statistics (from this week, death notifications collected from providers will include whether the person had suspected or confirmed COVID-19); (4) information gathering (data on coronavirus pressures from services providing care in people's own homes will now be collected).

CQC, 'Routine inspections suspended in response to coronavirus outbreak' (16/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

CQC letter to providers about coronavirus

The CQC has written to all registered health and social care providers stating that inspections will stop from 16/3/20 (except in a very small number of cases when there is concern about harm), asking to be notified within 24 hours of any suspected or known case or outbreak of COVID-19, and stating: "We encourage everyone to act in the best interests of the health of the people they serve, with the top priority the protection of life. We encourage you to use your discretion and act in the best way you see fit." (emphasis in original)

DHSC, 'Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities' (1/4/20) Guidance Coronavirus resource

Care Act "easements"

"This guidance sets out how Local Authorities can use the new Care Act easements, created under the Coronavirus Act 2020, to ensure the best possible care for people in our society during this exceptional period." The first sentences of the changes (which are each followed by "however"-type sentences) are: (1) Local Authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. (2) Local Authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. (3) Local Authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions. (4) The duties on Local Authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs.

DHSC, 'Coronavirus bill: what it will do' (18/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Information about Coronavirus Bill

"The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has identified that to effectively manage a coronavirus outbreak in the UK, we need to introduce new fast-tracked legislation. This will provide us with the legal measures to be able to implement our phased response. This paper sets out, subject to final approvals, the elements of the new legislation and why they are needed." It will involve changes to mental health law.

DHSC, 'Responding to COVID-19: the ethical framework for adult social care' (19/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Department of Health coronavirus ethical guidance

The introduction states: "Recognising increasing pressures and expected demand, it might become necessary to make challenging decisions on how to redirect resources where they are most needed and to prioritise individual care needs. This framework intends to serve as a guide for these types of decisions and reinforce that consideration of any potential harm that might be suffered, and the needs of all individuals, are always central to decision-making." There are eight values and principles: (1) respect; (2) reasonableness; (3) minimising harm; (4) inclusiveness; (5) accountability; (6) flexibility; (7) proportionality; (8) community. Under the "respect" heading it states that "those making decisions should ... where a person may lack capacity (as defined in the Mental Capacity Act), ensure that a person’s best interests and support needs are considered by those who are responsible or have relevant legal authority to decide on their behalf".

Hannah Taylor, 'Coronavirus Act 2020 - Changes for Mental Health' (Bevan Brittan, 1/4/20) Web page Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus mental health law changes

This web page sets out the proposed changes to the MHA in table format. It then gives some information under the following headings: (1) What about potentially infectious persons in the mental health context? (2) Patients who refuse to self-isolate; (3) How should public authorities be preparing for the changes? (a) Communication; (b) Environmental preparation; (c) Informing staff; (d) Training and guidance; (e) Alternative arrangements; (f) Statutory forms.

HHJ Carolyn Hilder, 'Court User Group meeting (28/4/20) cancellation notice' (Letter to stakeholders, 18/3/20) Letter Coronavirus resource

COP User Group coronavirus update

The next CUG meeting has been postponed from 28/4/20 until 6/10/20, and any issues arising in the meantime should be addressed to the Senior Judge of the Court of Protection's Business Support Officer.

Hill Dickinson LLP, 'Coronavirus Act - key facts' (26/3/20) Article Coronavirus resource

Summary of Coronavirus Act 2000

This detailed summary of the Coronavirus Act 2020 contains the following headings: (1) Emergency registration of health and social care professionals; (2) Suspension of duties to undertake assessments of need/discharge of patients from hospital; (3) Deaths and inquests; (4) Indemnity for health service activity; (5) Powers in relation to potentially infectious persons; (6) Children; (7) Offences; (8) Impact on NHS employers; (9) Emergency volunteering leave; (10) Statutory sick pay; (11) Changes to the Mental Health Act 1983: (a) Applications for detention under section 2 and section 3; (b) Holding powers; (c) Treatment - administration of medicine to persons liable to detention in hospital; (d) Detention in place of safety; (e) Patients concerned with the criminal justice system.

HM Government and NHS, 'COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements' (19/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus hospital discharge service requirements

The covering letter states: "We face an unprecedented challenge in the weeks and months ahead to provide health and social care services that meet the needs of people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)." The document summary states: "This document sets out the Hospital Discharge Service Requirements for all NHS trusts, community interest companies and private care providers of acute, community beds and community health services and social care staff in England, who must adhere to this from Thursday 19th March 2020. It also sets out requirements around discharge for health and social care commissioners (including Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities). ... Implementing these Service Requirements is expected to free up to at least 15,000 beds by Friday 27th March, with discharge flows maintained after that." In Annex A (The Discharge to Assess Model) the MCA is mentioned: "Duties under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 still apply during this period. If a person is suspected to lack the relevant mental capacity to make the decisions about their ongoing care and treatment, a capacity assessment should be carried out before decision about their discharge is made. Where the person is assessed to lack the relevant mental capacity and a decision needs to be made then there must be a best interest decision made for their ongoing care in line with the usual processes. If the proposed arrangements amount to a deprivation of liberty, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in care homes arrangements and orders from the Court of Protection for community arrangements still apply but should not delay discharge."

HMCTS, 'HMCTS telephone and video hearings during coronavirus outbreak' (18/3/20) CQC guidance Coronavirus resource

Telephone and video hearing coronavirus guidance

This guidance on telephone and video technology has information under the following headings: (1) The decision to use telephone and video hearings; (2) Using existing technology and making new technology available; (3) The rules on using video and audio technology in courts; (4) Proposed legislation

HMCTS, 'How to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' (8/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Remote hearing guidance for users

"Use this guide if you’ve been asked to join a hearing by telephone or video using BT MeetMe, Skype for Business or Cloud Video Platform (CVP) during the coronavirus outbreak."

James Goddard, 'Coronavirus: emergency legislation' (House of Lords Library, 18/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Summary of legislation relating to coronavirus

This article describes the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, the proposed Coronavirus Bill (which was introduced after the article's publication), and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, and provides a list of further reading.

Judiciary of England and Wales, 'Civil justice in England and Wales: Protocol regarding remote hearings' (20/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Civil courts remote hearing protocol

"This Protocol seeks to provide basic guidance as to the conduct of remote hearings."

LAA, 'Contingency Measure for Civil Escape Cases - Electronic Submission' (24/3/20) Legal Aid resource Coronavirus resource

Civil escape case claims

As a temporary measure, the LAA are requiring that these be submitted electronically. The guidance document contains full details.

LAPG, 'Guidance on what the Legal Aid Contract and LAA COVID-19 Guidance Allows' (25/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Guidance about LAA contract terms

This detailed guidance contains information under the following headings: (1) Your office; (2) Progressing Current Cases; (3) Potential New Clients; (4) Providing “Remote” Advice and Digital Signatures; (5) Means Assessment for Remote Advice; (6) Supervision; (7) Supervisor Absence; (8) Key Workers; (9) Speak to the LAA.

Law Society, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and updates' (19/3/20) Web page Coronavirus resource

Law Society coronavirus guidance

This guidance contains information under the headings: (1) Advice for employers; (2) Advice for firm owners, managing partners or senior leaders; (3) Advice for members visiting police stations, prisons or courts; (4) Advice for international firms; (5) Advice for conveyancers; (6) Advice for litigators; (7) Advice for legal aid firms.

Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): contract management and assurance' (14/4/20) Legal Aid resource Coronavirus resource

LAA contract guidance

This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), contains information about working with contract management, reducing administrative activity for providers, office and supervisory arrangements, and quality mark accreditation. Under the heading "Designated Accredited Representatives in Mental Health cases" it states: "We understand the current situation may mean you are unable to meet the requirements of the contract regarding designated accreditation representatives, including where an individual is not able to meet the 14-hour requirement. You should document the reasons why, but we will not take any action in this situation. It will remain a requirement all advocates before the tribunal except self-employed counsel must be members of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme."

Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20) Legal Aid resource Coronavirus resource

LAA coronavirus guidance

This LAA web page is the main source of Legal Aid guidance, and contains links to various sub-pages.

Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): remote working' (14/4/20) Legal Aid resource Coronavirus resource

LAA remote working guidance

This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), includes information on the MHT level 3 fee: "Most Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) hearings will now be heard remotely. We can confirm the MHT Level 3 Fee will be payable where representation is carried out at a remote hearing intended to dispose of a case and would have ordinarily taken place in person."

Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): working with clients' (14/4/20) Legal Aid resource Coronavirus resource

LAA coronavirus guidance

This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), includes information relating to making Legal Aid applications, assessing financial eligibility where a client cannot attend, using digital signatures, client finances and contributions, approach to emergency certificates, and operation of the statutory charge. In relation to assessing eligibility it states: "Reasonable efforts to collect evidence should still be made and recorded, before assessing without evidence if that is not possible." In relation to signatures the advice, since 24/3/20, has included: "In situations where it is not possible to get a client signature, digitally or otherwise, please make a note on the file explaining why, countersigned by a supervisor, and also make a note on the application/form when submitted to avoid delays or issues with processing. Please seek a signature at the earliest possible opportunity. ... [S]upervisor signatures may also be provided digitally to enable effective remote supervision, as long as they are clearly related to the relevant file notes."

Lord Chief Justice, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Jury trials' (17/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus jury trials guidance

(1) No new trial should start in the Crown Court unless it is expected to last for three days or fewer; (2) all cases estimated to last longer than three days listed to start before the end of April 2020 will be adjourned; (3) trials currently underway will generally proceed in the hope that they can be completed.

Lord Chief Justice, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Message from the Lord Chief Justice to judges in the Civil and Family Courts' (19/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus court guidance on remote hearings

This message states: "The rules in both the civil and family courts are flexible enough to enable telephone and video hearings of almost everything. Any legal impediments will be dealt with. HMCTS are working urgently on expanding the availability of technology but in the meantime we have phones, some video facilities and Skype." It contains some outline guidance in relation to social distancing, litigants in person, trials and hearings involving live evidence, prioritising work, possession proceedings, injunctions and committal hearings, civil appeals, and family matters.

Lord Chief Justice, 'Review of court arrangements due to COVID-19, message from the Lord Chief Justice' (23/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Jury trials have been paused

(1) This message notes that jury trials cannot be conducted remotely and states that all jury trials will be paused for a short time to enable appropriate precautions to be put in place (this topic is only of peripheral interest to MHLO readers so please check the Judiciary website or elsewhere for further updates). (2) In relation to family and civil courts it confirms that hearings requiring the physical presence of parties and their representatives and others should only take place if a remote hearing is not possible and if suitable arrangements can be made to ensure safety.

Martin Jones, 'Guidance to members' (Parole Board, 20/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Parole Board coronavirus guidance

The guidance from the PB CEO's Twitter account is: (1) The Parole Board is considering changes to guidance, so that fewer cases are directed to oral hearing. (2) The views of the prisoner or representative will be sought but the decision on whether an oral hearing is needed lies with the panel chairman. (3) At oral hearings, panel members, legal representatives, witnesses and victims may be allowed to undertake video/telephone links from home to try to avoid delay to hearings. (4) If one panel member cannot attend owing to coronavirus then the hearing should proceed wherever possible. (5) More cases will be concluded by a single panel member. See also: Parole Board, 'Further guidance to members' (1/4/20)

Mental Health Casework Section, 'MHCS Update: Covid-19' (Dear Colleague letter, 19/3/20) Letter Coronavirus resource

MHCS coronavirus update

This letter explains that MHCS staff are all working from home, their policies and procedures remain the same, and the ability to deliver casework is unchanged. If staffing levels decrease: the priorities will be recalls, prison transfers, upward transfers, tribunal statements and level/downward transfers and repatriations; there might be delays in leave decisions and discharges; and conditional discharge reports (CDRs) and applications for changes of discharge conditions (unless important because of risk) will be the lowest priority.

Mental Health Casework Section, 'Q and A for healthcare professionals and MHCS staff' (30/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

MHCS coronavirus guidance

The questions are: (1) Will MHCS relax a requirement that supervisors should have face-to-face contact with patients living in the community, for conditional discharge reports? (2) What happens if a patient, who is detained in hospital, requires urgent treatment as a result of suspected COVID-19? (3) What happens if there is an urgent need to transfer a patient with suspected Covid-19 from one mental health hospital to another? (The document contains a new shorter transfer request template for use in this scenario.) (4) Is there still a requirement to submit Conditional Discharge Reports (CDRs) and Annual Statutory Reports (ASRs)? (5) How do I extend previously granted overnight leave at a community placement, to prevent the need for the patient to go back and forth between the hospital and community placement?

Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, 'Covid-19 Outbreak - Important Update' (19/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Scottish MHT's coronavirus guidance

The MHTS intends to hold all hearings by teleconference from Monday 23/3/20. The update details how this will work in practice, including assisting patients to participate in proceedings.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Direction for disclosure of medical records to legal representatives in all cases for the duration of the Pilot Practice Direction' (25/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Automatic disclosure of medical records

Owing to the fact that representatives cannot arrange for patients to sign consent forms, this direction requires the responsible authority: (1) to allow immediate access to the patient's medical and nursing notes upon receipt of the CNL1 form containing the representative's name; (2) to email without delay any notes specified by the representative; and (3) to highlight any information in the notes not to be disclosed to the patient (the representative must not disclose this information without further order of the tribunal).

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Ensuring patients can access justice' (Sarah Johnston DCP, 22/5/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT remote hearings

This article on the Judiciary website explains the adoption of remote hearing procedures by the MHT.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) update' (2/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT telephone hearing guidance

Information in this update includes: (1) all face to face hearings will be changed to telephone hearings for the foreseeable future; (2) the telephone attendee form, including the patient's number, is required 6 days before the hearing (24 hours for s2); (3) at the hearing the tribunal judge will telephone the patient with an invitation to join the call.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Further update on coronavirus situation' (1/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT update including listing

(1) All hearings have been postponed for certain community patients (CTO and conditional discharge), unless they have already been listed for paper review, until the revocation of the coronavirus pilot PD, or earlier if the tribunal directs. (The original summary here wrongly said "all community patients" - apologies.) (2) Section 2, conditional discharge recall, and CAMHS cases are the priority for listing; other cases were not being listed, but s3 and restricted cases should now begin to be listed. (3) Representatives are requested not to call the tribunal unless absolutely necessary, and to seek directions for late reports.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Help for users' (15/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT guidance for patients

This guidance explains that hearings will be heard via telephone/video, by a tribunal judge alone ("because we have less support because of the coronavirus"), there will be no medical examination (because "people cannot meet together"), and community hearings will not take place ("because of the difficulties we have in organising hearings here everyone can participate" - unless the patient or representative explains "why your case must go ahead").

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Message to the Royal College of Psychiatrists' (Sarah Johnston and Joan Rutherford, 26/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Guidance to psychiatrists about remote hearings

(1) This guidance to psychiatrists includes the following: all evidence will be taken before a tribunal judge alone, using phone (BT MeetMe) or video; the doctor giving evidence will released after giving evidence except in all but exceptional cases; the patient will not be given the decision orally. (2) To help the tribunal, clinical teams should: (a) submit s2 reports the day before the hearing (to avoid delays); (b) advise the tribunal judge if the patient will be unable to stay in the room or should give evidence first; (c) tell the tribunal judge whether the patient can remain as a voluntary patient (which is no longer possible in many areas); (d) emphasise any limitations of the evidence (for instance if the patient has recently been moved between "clean" and "dirty" coronavirus wards); (e) focus on the statutory criteria; (f) suggest delayed discharge for follow-up to be arranged; (g) give evidence from a private area. (3) The tribunal are encouraging wing members to return to clinical work, and are looking at formats for shorter reports.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Order and directions for all community patients who are subject to a CTO or conditional discharge and who have applied or been referred to the tribunal for the duration of the Pilot Practice Direction' (26/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Hearing postponement for certain community patients

(1) The hearings of certain community patients will be postponed, unless they have already been listed for paper review. (2) It applies to patients “over 18” (this is meant to mean 18 or over) presumably at the time of the application or reference. (3) The following will be postponed: (a) applications by CTO patients (s66(1)); (b) applications by conditionally-discharged (C/D) patients (s75(2)); (c) periodic mandatory references in the cases of CTO patients (s68(2) and s68(6)). (4) The following will not be postponed: (a) discretionary references for CTO patients (s67(1)); (b) discretionary references for C/D patients (s71(1)); (c) revocation references for CTO patients (s68(7)); (d) recall references for C/D patients (s75(1)). (5) The order purports to postpone periodic mandatory references for C/D patients (s71(2)) but these references are only made for a "restricted patient detained in a hospital". (6) The hearings will take place on the first convenient date after revocation of the Pilot Practice Direction, or earlier if the tribunal orders (the parties are to agree a new listing window after revocation and apply for a new date). (7) All parties are at liberty to apply to vary the order and directions in exceptional cases. (8) The reason given for the order is that (a) it is "not feasible or practicable for a community patient under the government's 'stay at home' policy to attempt to participate in a hearing"; (b) cases where the patient is deprived of his liberty are being prioritised for listing; (c) postponement is proportionate to the "extreme demands being placed on health, social care and justice services by the pandemic"; (d) the case will be relisted as soon as practicable "having regard to any temporary regulations or other priorities that may prevail during the coronavirus emergency".

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Order and directions for listing of community hearings' (6/5/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Community hearings are now being listed

These cases had been postponed on 26/3/20 but now will be listed for hearing because the tribunal "has now achieved a level of administrative support to be able to list cases for community patients". The order and directions set out the duties on patients' representatives and responsible authorities in relation to reports, consideration of paper hearings, agreed hearing dates, and remote hearing practicalities.

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Update on coronavirus situation' (18/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT coronavirus guidance

The position set out in this guidance is that: (1) hearings will continue as planned; (2) hearings require all three panel members, but this may change as part of the contingency plan being prepared; (3) requests to give evidence via telephone should be sent to the mhtcorrespondence email address; (4) hearings are being arranged as telephone conferences when hospitals are in lock-down; (5) listing window extension requests should be submitted to mhtcasemanagementrequests, but extended windows may be part of the contingency plan; (6) the tribunal is pushing for greater provision for paper hearings; (7) pre-hearing medical examinations are continuing, subject to the circumstances of each case, but these could cease if all hearings become telephone reviews. Largely superseded by: Tribunals Judiciary, 'Guidance from the Chamber President and Deputy Chamber President of HESC regarding the Mental Health jurisdiction' (Coronavirus, 19/3/20).

Mental Health Tribunal, 'Video Conference Hearings' (6/4/20) Letter Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT video hearings

From 13/4/20 all cases will be listed as video hearings using the Common Video Platform (CVP), instead of telephone hearings. Telephone hearings had taken longer and made communication more difficult, and it is hoped that video hearings will be an improvement.

Mind, 'Coronavirus and your rights' (April 2020) Web page Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus advice for patients, carers and others

This web page contains links to further Mind resources on: (1) Coronavirus and social care rights; (2) Coronavirus and sectioning; and (3) Coronavirus and your mental health.

April 2020
Ministry of Justice, 'COVID-19 Stakeholder Update' (22/3/20) Email Coronavirus resource

MOJ coronavirus update

This email contains (among other things) clarification that the "key worker" category includes: advocates required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person); other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice, including duty solicitors and lawyers and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings; solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty.

NHS, 'Clinical guide for front line staff to support the management of patients with a learning disability, autism or both during the coronavirus pandemic - relevant to all clinical specialities' (ref 001559, v1, 24/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Guidance on learning disability and autism

The Overview states: "People with a learning disability have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than the general population and die prematurely. At least 41% of them die from respiratory conditions. They have a higher prevalence of asthma and diabetes, and of being obese or underweight in people; all these factors make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. There is evidence that people with autism also have higher rates of health problems throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and that this may result in elevated risk of early mortality". The following key points are discussed: (1) Be aware of diagnostic overshadowing; (2) Pay attention to healthcare passports; (3) Listen to parents/carers; (4) Make reasonable adjustments; (5) Communication; (6) Understanding behavioural responses to illness/pain/discomfort; (7) Mental Capacity Act; (8) Ask for specialist support and advice if necessary; (9) Mental wellbeing and emotional distress.

Official Solicitor, 'Coronavirus update - property and affairs team' (19/3/20) Letter Coronavirus resource

Official Solicitor coronavirus guidance

The Official Solicitor and Public Trustee Office is operating but, because all staff are working remotely and do not have access to anything sent by post, it is requested that all documents are sent electronically. In order to avoid administrative delay, attachments should be sent as clearly-labelled separate files rather than single large files.

OPG, 'How to register an EPA during the coronavirus outbreak' (27/4/20) Guidance Coronavirus resource

EPA registration guidance

"If you need to register an EPA now, you can still do so while observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding."

OPG, 'NHS and social care staff: check if a COVID-19 patient has an attorney or deputy' (7/4/20) Coronavirus resource

OPG procedure

The Office of the Public Guardian aim to respond to requests: (1) in relation to coronavirus patients, within 24 hours, Monday to Friday, with weekend requests being prioritised on Mondays; (2) for other patients, within the usual 5 working days.

Parliament website, 'Coronavirus Bill 2019-21' Bill Coronavirus resource

Progress of Coronavirus Bill in Parliament

This web page contains the links to the full text of the Bill as introduced on 19/3/20, explanatory notes, and other documents.

Parole Board, 'Further guidance to members' (1/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Parole Board guidance

(1) A panel can now make these decisions at MCA (Member Case Assessment): (a) to release or recommend transfer to open conditions in appropriate cases on the papers; (b) to refuse release or decline transfer to open conditions in appropriate cases on the papers; (c) to direct a case to an oral hearing. (2) Members have the option to expand the panel if they wish. (3) The guidance includes factors to consider when deciding whether an oral hearing is needed.

Pilot Practice Direction: Contingency Arrangements in the First-Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal (Coronavirus, 19/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Tribunal coronavirus Practice Direction

During the pilot period, initially six months: (1) decisions should usually be made without a hearing where the rules permit [MHT: rule 35 limits this to Part 5 and strike-out decisions, and certain CTO referrals]; (2) in jurisdictions where a hearing is required unless the parties consent to a determination on the papers [MHT: certain CTO referral cases] Chamber Presidents may allow a paper "triage" scheme in which provisional decisions are provided in cases in which a successful outcome for the applicant/appellant is likely; (3) all hearings should be held remotely where it is reasonably practicable and in accordance with the overriding objective [MHT: rule 1 states that hearings may be "conducted in whole or in part by video link, telephone or other means of instantaneous two-way electronic communication"]; (4) where permitted, hearings will proceed in the absence of parties who have not made an adjournment/postponement application [MHT: a requirement of rule 39 is that the patient has decided not to attend or is unable to attend for reasons of ill health]; (5) tribunals will take into account the impact of the pandemic when considering applications for extension of time for compliance with directions or the postponement of hearings. [Notes in square brackets are not part of the PD itself.]

Pilot Practice Direction: Health, Education and Social Care Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) (Coronavirus, 19/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Mental Health Tribunal coronavirus Practice Direction

For the pilot period, initially six months: (1) every decision, including those that dispose of proceedings, will be made by a judge alone, unless the CP, DCP or authorised salaried judge appoints two or three people; (2) the tribunal will suggest that CTO reference hearings are dealt with on the papers under rule 35; (3) it will not be "practicable" under rule 34 for any pre-hearing medical examinations to take place during the pandemic (no mention is made of video or telephone conferencing); (4) panels of one of two may seek the advice of one or more non-legal members to assist in decision-making, provided the advice is recoded and disclosed to the parties.

Pilot Practice Direction: Panel Composition in the First-Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal (Coronavirus, 19/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus tribunal composition (non-MH)

This PD applies to all appeals and applications within the First-tier and Upper Tribunal, except in mental health cases. For the duration of the pilot period, initially six months: (1) a salaried tribunal judge may decide, having regard to urgency among other matters, may depart from the usual rules on panel composition; (2) in such cases, the tribunal may seek the advice of one or more non-legal members to assist with its decision-making, provided the advice is recorded and disclosed to the parties.

Pilot Practice Direction: The use of former Salaried Judges (26/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Former STJs treated as current

Former Salaried Tribunal Judges are to be interpreted as falling within the definition of salaried judges for the purposes of the coronavirus "Contingency Arrangements" pilot PD.

Pilot Practice Direction: Video/Audio Hearings in the First-Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal (2/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Public/private hearings and access to recordings

(1) In Senior President of Tribunals, 'Judges' and Members' Administrative Instruction No 4' (14/4/20) it is stated that following the Tribunal Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Rules 2020 amendments there is no need to refer to this PD. (2) This PD, which applies to the FTT and UT, states that (paraphrased): (a) where it is not practicable to broadcast a remote hearing in a court or tribunal building, the tribunal may direct that the hearing will take place in private; (b) where a media representative is able to access proceedings remotely then the hearing is a public hearing; (c) any such private hearing must be recorded if practicable, and the tribunal may consent to any person accessing that recording. (3) None of these changes will have any impact on normal MHT hearings, which are private by default rather than because of this PD; also, the related changes to the HESC rules made by Tribunal Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Rules 2020 were inserted into the part of those rules which do not apply to mental health cases.

President of the Family Divison, 'COVID 19: National Guidance for the Family Court' (19/3/20) Court guidance Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus Family Court guidance

This guidance for all levels of the Family Court and in the High Court Family Division provides detailed guidance on remote hearings and states that "whilst the default position should be that, for the time being, all Family Court hearings should be undertaken remotely either via email, telephone, video or Skype, etc, where the requirements of fairness and justice require a court-based hearing, and it is safe to conduct one, then a court-based hearing should take place".

Royal College of Psychiatrists, 'Legal matters - COVID-19 guidance for clinicians' (March 2020, updated periodically) Web page Coronavirus resource

Coronavirus guidance for psychiatrists

This contains information under the following headings: (1) Emergency legislation and the Mental Health Act - not yet in force; (2) Update on the operation of Mental Health Tribunals; (3) Changes to SOAD procedures.

March 2020
Senior President of Tribunals, 'Guidance for tribunal judges and members - COVID-19 measures' (23/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Tribunal coronavirus hygiene guidance

This guidance covers matters such as 2m separation and hand washing.

Senior President of Tribunals, 'Judges' and Members' Administrative Instruction No 4' (14/4/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

Further coronavirus guidance

This guidance refers to: (1) the Mental Health Tribunal, 'Help for users' (15/4/20) document; (2) the rule changes in Tribunal Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Rules 2020 (paper hearings, s2 timeframes, and public/private hearings); (3) plans for further or intermittent lockdown, the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, and both the return of existing business and new business; (4) paper case files; (5) some other matters irrelevant to mental health.

Sian Davies et al, 'Rapid response guidance note: COVID-19, social distancing and mental capacity' (39 Essex Chambers, 31/3/20) Document Coronavirus resource

Social distancing and mental capacity

"The Court of Protection team have been asked to advise on a number of occasions since 17 March 2020 as to the legal position where a person (“P”) lives in the community and declines to practice social distancing in circumstances where P does not (or may not) have capacity to make decisions about social contact in the circumstances of COVID-19. Clearly the consequences of P going into the community, as she ordinarily would, are (a) that she is at risk of contracting COVID-19, (b) that she may infect others, if she has the virus, and (c) that she may be in breach of the new police powers which have come into effect."

Tribunals Judiciary, 'Guidance from the Chamber President and Deputy Chamber President of HESC regarding the Mental Health jurisdiction' (Coronavirus, 19/3/20) Tribunal guidance Coronavirus resource

MHT coronavirus telecon procedure

The following procedure will apply to hearings from Monday 23/3/20: (1) section 2 and conditional discharge recall hearings will be prioritised; (2) no pre-hearing examinations will take place; (3) new cases will be listed as a telephone conference before a single judge; (4) the judge can seek advice by telephone from that day's allocated medical or lay member, then repeat that advice in the telecon and allow submissions; (5) it is suggested that an unrepresented patient be allowed to speak to the judge without others in the room; (6) it is suggested that the decision is not announced. (See the document for full details.)

Welsh Government, 'Coronavirus: guidance for Local Health Boards and Independent Hospitals in Wales exercising Hospital Managers' discharge powers under the Mental Health Act 1983' (14/4/20) Guidance Coronavirus resource

Welsh guidance hospital managers' discharge power

"This guidance is provided to assist Local Health Boards (LHB's) and Independent Hospitals in Wales exercising Hospital Managers’ discharge powers under the Mental Health Act 1983 (the Act) during this exceptional period."


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