Fennell, Letts and Wilson, Mental Health Tribunals (Law Society 2013):
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Summary of Tribunal Rules

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Set out below are links to the various Tribunal rules and a brief summary of them. [Draft notes]

Contents

Tribunal organisation

The Tribunal which decides on the lawfulness of a patient's detention in England is the First-tier Tribunal (Health, Education and Social Tier Chamber) (Mental Health), commonly known as the Mental Health Tribunal. In Wales the Tribunal is the "Mental Health Review Tribunal in Wales". Appeals in both jurisdictions are heard in the English Upper Tribunal.

Applications are sent to the Tribunal office in Leicester, and can be sent by letter, email or fax, depending on preference and urgency. Email and fax are to be preferred, in case the application gets lost. The application form is voluntary but helpful for the Tribunal clerks, and is available on the Tribunal website. The application can be signed by the patient or someone authorised to sign on his behalf.

Rules and Practice Directions

Each Tribunal has its own rules:

Also, several practice directions and notes have been issued:

A complete list of Rules, Practice Directions and Guidance is available on the Tribunal Rules page.

Description of rules

Reports

Reports are required in the following areas: medical, social circumstances, and nursing. The Practice Direction on reports explains what content is required.

Rule 32 explains the time limits. In most cases, reports are required within 3 weeks of the Tribunal sending the notification of application.

Directions

This is governed by rule 6. When the reports do not arrive within the deadline, directions should be sought to direct that the reports be produced.

Non-disclosure of documents and information

This is governed by rule 14.

Withdrawal

Requests to withdraw Tribunal applications are governed by Tribunal rule 17. The withdrawal request can be made "at any time before a hearing to consider the disposal of the proceedings" (a letter would suffice) or "orally at the hearing".

The rules about the Tribunal's consent vary:

  • A patient's application cannot be withdrawn without the Tribunal's consent. If the request is made in writing before the hearing date it is almost invariably agreed.
  • A discretionary reference by the SoS for Health (under s67) or the SoS for Justice (under 71(1)) can be withdrawn without the Tribunal's consent.
  • A mandatory reference cannot be withdrawn. These are references by hospital mangers (under s68), by the SoS for Justice 3 years since the previous hearing (under s71(2)) or by SSJ after recall (under s75(1)).

Decisions

The relevant rule here is rule 41. The Tribunal may give a decision orally, and invariably do. Subject to the rules on non-disclosure of documents/information, written reasons must be sent within 7 working days (3 working days for s2 hearings).

This category contains various general articles which don't readily fit into any of the other categories.