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  • 22/01/15 (1): Updated Law Society practice note. Law Society practice note on representation before Mental Health Tribunals — This practice note advises on providing legal advice to clients appearing before the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in England and the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales. It has information under the following headings: (1) Introduction; (2) The right to legal advice and representation before the tribunal; (3) Communication with the client; (4) Taking instructions; (5) Your duties towards your client; (6) Good tribunal practice; (7) Representing children and young people before the tribunal; (8) More information. It was last updated on 22/1/15 to clarify aspects of the advice contained in the previous version, as well as to reflect changes in procedural and other rules, case law, and the SRA Code of Conduct.
  • 21/01/15 (5): Deprivation of liberty and damages. Essex County Council v RF (2015) EWCOP 1, (2015) MHLO 2(1) A final declaration was made that P lacked capacity to make decisions in relation to his residence and care arrangements, but retained capacity to make decisions in relation to contact with others. (2) In considering quantum there is a difference between procedural breaches (which would have made no difference to P's living or care arrangements) and substantive breaches (where P would not have been detained if the authority had acted lawfully). (3) The judge approved the following compromise agreement: (a) a declaration that ECC unlawfully deprived P of his liberty for approximately 13 months; (b) £60,000 damages; (c) care home fees to be waived (around £23-25,000); (d) damages to be excluded from means testing for community care costs; (e) costs to be paid (may exceed £64,000). (4) The judge described the situation as follows: "It is hard to imagine a more depressing and inexcusable state of affairs. A defenceless 91 year old gentleman in the final years of his life was removed from his home of 50 years and detained in a locked dementia unit against his wishes. Had it not been for the alarm raised by his friend RF he may have been condemned to remain there for the remainder of his days. There can be no doubt that ECC's practice was substandard. They failed to recognise the weakness of their own case and the strength of the case against them. They appeared unprepared to countenance any view contrary to their own. They maintained their resolute opposition to P returning to his home until the last possible moment. In my judgment the conduct of ECC has been reprehensible. The very sad and disturbing consequences for P cannot be ignored."
  • 21/01/15 (4): Refresher and re-accreditation course. The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a Refresher and Re-accreditation course on Monday 30/3/15 in London. This new course will be suitable for (a) those seeking to fulfil the requirement to obtain six mental health CPD points during each year of accreditation membership; (b) those seeking re-accreditation, by reviewing the legal and procedural developments of the last three years, and providing a forum for discussing these along with the re-accreditation process; and (c) anyone wishing to further their knowledge of mental health law and practice. See MHLA website for further information and booking details. See Events
  • 21/01/15 (3): Cross-examination course. The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a course entitled "Cross-examination of medical witnesses" on Friday 20/3/15 in Leicester. This course covers: understanding mental disorder, nature and degree; psychiatric medications; consent to treatment provisions; understanding and addressing the ‘risks’ and challenging this evidence; instructing independent psychiatrists appropriately and using their evidence at tribunal. See the MHLA website for further information and booking details. See Events
  • 21/01/15 (2): Panel course. The Mental Health Lawyers Association will be running their two-day course for membership of the Law Society's Mental Health Accreditation Scheme (formerly the MHRT panel) on Monday 2/3/15 and Tuesday 3/3/15 in London and on Thursday 5/3/15 and Friday 6/3/15 in Leeds. New mental health lawyers are strongly encouraged also to attend the foundation course. Price: £300 (members); £390 (non-members); 10% discount for groups of three or more members. CPD: 12 SRA-accredited hours. See the MHLA website for further information and booking details in relation to both the London and Leeds courses. See Events
  • 21/01/15 (1): Foundation course. The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a mental health law foundation course on Wednesday 25/2/15 in London and on Thursday 26/2/15 in Manchester. This course is aimed at new practitioners and those intending to attend the panel course in the near future. The foundation course takes an interactive approach. It covers the basics of mental health law, Legal Aid, and running a mental health file. Price: £150 (MHLA members); £195 (non-members). CPD: 6 SRA-accredited hours. See MHLA website for further information and booking details in relation to both the London and Manchester courses. See Events
  • 16/01/15 (3): Department of Health, 'News story: New Mental Health Act code of practice' (15/1/15). Main text from news story: "The code shows professionals how to carry out their roles and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983, to ensure that all patients receive high quality and safe care. There have been significant changes in legislation, case law, policy and professional practice since the last code was published in 2008. The revised code aims to provide stronger protection for patients and clarify roles, rights and responsibilities. This includes: (a) involving the patient and, where appropriate, their families and carers in discussions about the patient’s care at every stage; (b) providing personalised care; (c) minimising the use of inappropriate blanket restrictions, restrictive interventions and the use of police cells as places of safety. The main changes to the code include: (a) 5 new guiding principles; (b) new chapters on care planning, human rights, equality and health inequalities; (c) consideration of when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and information to support victims; (d) new sections on physical health care, blanket restrictions, duties to support patients with dementia and immigration detainees; (e) significantly updated chapters on the appropriate use of restrictive interventions, particularly seclusion and long-term segregation, police powers and places of safety; (f) further guidance on how to support children and young people, those with a learning disability or autism. The new code will come into force on 1 April 2015, subject to Parliamentary approval." See Mental Health Act 1983 Code Of Practice for England
  • 16/01/15 (2): Department of Health, 'Stronger Code: Better Care: Government response to the Consultation on the Mental Health Act 1983: Code of Practice' (16/1/15). See Consultations#Department of Health
  • 16/01/15 (1): Department of Health, 'Equality for all: Mental Health Act 1983: Code of Practice 2015: Equality Analysis' (16/1/15). See Consultations#Department of Health
  • 15/01/15 (1): Events. The Mental Health Lawyers Association have announced their 2015 training programme: Foundation course (London 25 Feb, Manchester 26 Feb, London 18 May, Manchester 19 May, London 24 Aug, Manchester 25 Aug); Panel course (London 2-3 Mar, Leeds 5-6 Mar, London 1-2 Jun, Leeds 4-5 Jun, London 7-8 Sep, Leeds 10-11 Sep); Cross-examination of medical witnesses (Leicester, 20 Mar); Refresher and re-accreditation course (London 30 Mar, Manchester 9 Jul, London 16 Oct); Tribunal advocacy and Case law for tribunal preparation (Manchester 1 Apr, London 10 Apr); Introduction to the Court of Protection (London 7-8 May, Manchester 8-9 Oct); Legal Aid and Peer Review (London 3 Jul, Manchester 10 Jul). See MHLA website for description of all courses and online booking information. See Events
  • 14/01/15 (8): Best interests case. The Mental Health Trust v DD (2014) EWCOP 44, (2014) MHLO 141 — "I do not propose to give a detailed judgment in this case today in light of the large measure of agreement. However, I want to make some comments about the proposed draft order. ... In preparation for this four day hearing, in which I was to be considering questions of long-term contraception or sterilisation of DD, I have read with care ..."
  • 13/01/15 (7): National Offender Management Service, 'Mental Health Treatment Requirement: Guidance on Supporting Integrated Delivery' (30/12/14). Introduction and detail from Government website: "This (non-statutory) guidance seeks to provide support to service commissioning and provider agencies so that appropriate mental health service provision and inter-agency partnerships enable Mental Health Treatment Requirements (MHTR) delivery locally. The guidance reflects the changes to responsibility for probation services in England and Wales from 2014 resulting from the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms and the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. Information on who to contact for further information is also included." See Miscellaneous external links
  • 13/01/15 (6): Houses of Parliament Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, 'Parity of Esteem for Mental Health' (Postnote no.485, 7/1/15). Description from Parliament website: "Achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health in care standards and public attitudes has been attempted for decades. This note outlines the history of these efforts, the various ways in which parity is defined and measured, the challenges of achieving this ideal and the strategies that may be employed to that end." See Miscellaneous external links
  • 13/01/15 (4): Proposed legislation. Mental Health Act 1983 (Amendment) Bill 2014-15 — Presenting this private members bill, Sir Paul Beresford stated: "I should like section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to be amended as follows. First, the heading, 'Mentally disordered persons found in public places', should be changed to, 'Mentally disordered persons found by the police in the course of their duties. Secondly, the words 'in a place to which the public have access', should be changed to, 'in the course of carrying out his duties'."
  • 12/01/15 (1): ADASS, 'New DOLS forms' (January 2015). The new forms emailed by the DoLS Forms Project Group on 11/1/15 (without restricted editing and with an amended eligibility section in Form 4) are now available. See Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Standard Forms
  • 31/12/14 (31): National Assembly for Wales, 'Inquiry into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)' (Children, Young People and Education Committee, November 2014). See CAMHS
  • 31/12/14 (30): Terrorism case. DD v SSHD (2014) EWHC 3820 (Admin), (2014) MHLO 140 — "Currently, the effects of the TPIM in general, whatever the particular effects of certain restrictions, and the effects of the three most contentious conditions apart from the tag, plainly do not cross that high threshold so as to breach of Article 3. I reach that conclusion recognising that the maintenance of the TPIM and those conditions is significantly worse for DD than for a person who is in normal mental health, and that particular care is required in judging whether a mentally ill and vulnerable person is being treated with proper respect for the fact that he is a human being. The tag as described by Professor Fahy and Dr Deeley is undoubtedly the most severe requirement in its impact on DD, because of his paranoid ideation. DD's delusions about the tag being an explosive device and a camera are very frightening and distressing. He wants to remove it, as voices tell him to, yet knows this would continue with the cycle of breaching the TPIM, facing prison, release, revival of the TPIM and breach. The doctors agree that the removal of the tag would not simply lead to paranoid delusions associated with it being transferred to another object, because of the particular nature of the tag. Its removal would reduce the number and intensity of the stressors he has to cope with, which could increase his ability to handle those which remain. That is a judgment I make, but it is consistent with the medical evidence; indeed it seems obvious. However, I am not persuaded that the effect of the tag, on top of the other TPIM effects, does breach Article 3 in these circumstances in view of the high threshold required to be crossed." (TPIM stands for Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure.)
  • 31/12/14 (29): Home Office, 'Policy Equality Statement: Policy on the immigration detention of those suffering from mental health problems' (27/11/14). Extract from website: "In March 2012 the Home Office made a commitment to the High Court to undertake an equality impact assessment of its policy on detaining people with mental health problems. This policy equality statement fulfils that commitment and has been informed by consultation with various stakeholders." See Repatriation
  • 31/12/14 (28): Michael Buchanan, 'Seven mental health patients died waiting for beds (BBC News, 28/11/14). Extract: "Seven mental health patients have killed themselves in England since 2012 after being told there were no hospital beds for them, the BBC has learned." See Miscellaneous external links
  • 31/12/14 (26): Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decision. Lucia Benyu (strike off) and Ronnie Benyu (section 43 order) (2014) MHLO 138 (SDT)(1) In relation to Lucia Shingirai Benyu, née Ndoro, who at the material time practised as a sole practitioner under the style of Peters & Co Solicitors, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that: "The First Respondent had admitted a lack of integrity and had had several allegations of dishonesty proved against her. The Tribunal had heard a litany of the most ruthless exploitation of an obviously vulnerable individual and had disbelieved much of what the First Respondent had to say whilst giving evidence on oath. In cases where dishonest misappropriation of client’s funds had been found then it was well-established that that would invariably lead to strike off. There were no circumstances put before the Tribunal that might lead it to mitigate that penalty. The First Respondent would be struck off the Roll of Solicitors. Indeed, the seriousness of her misconduct was such that this would have been the appropriate sanction even if she had not been found to be dishonest." (2) In relation to Ronnie Benyu, her husband who held the position of Practice Manager and Bookkeeper, the SDT concluded that: "It was clear that, even by his own admission, the Second Respondent was a totally unfit person to work in a solicitor’s office. The Tribunal would have no hesitation in making the section 43 Order requested by the Applicant."
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