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  • 12/02/16 (3): MHLA: Re-accreditation course - London, 24/3/16. — The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a Refresher and Re-accreditation course on Thursday 24/3/16 London. This course is suitable for those seeking re-accreditation and will also be of interest to anyone wishing to further their knowledge of mental health law and practice. Price: £150 (MHLA members); £195 (non-members). CPD: 6 hours. See MHLA website for further information and to book online.
  • 12/02/16 (2): MHLA: Foundation course - London, 9/3/16. — The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a mental health law Foundation Course on Wednesday 9/3/16 in the London. The foundation course is aimed at new practitioners, and is strongly recommended for those wishing to benefit fully from attendance at the panel course (in Leeds and London). The foundation course takes an interactive approach, and covers the basics of mental health law, Legal Aid, and running a mental health file. Price: £150 (MHLA members); £195 (non-members). CPD: 6 hours. See MHLA website for further details and to book online.
  • 12/02/16 (1): MHLA: Foundation course - Manchester, 25/2/16. — The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running a mental health law Foundation Course on Thursday 25/2/16 in Manchester. The foundation course is aimed at new practitioners, and is strongly recommended for those wishing to benefit fully from attendance at the panel course (in Leeds and London). The foundation course takes an interactive approach, and covers the basics of mental health law, Legal Aid, and running a mental health file. Price: £150 (MHLA members); £195 (non-members). CPD: 6 hours. See MHLA website for further details and to book online.
  • 02/02/16 (1): Legal Aid/freezing order case. Lord Chancellor v John Blavo (2016) EWHC 126 (QB), (2016) MHLO 6There was a strongly arguable case that John Blavo was party to an arrangement whereby false claims were submitted to the LAA in many thousands of cases, there was evidence of a less than scrupulous approach to his duty of disclosure to the Court, and evidence of a recent attempt improperly to put property beyond the reach of the Lord Chancellor. Taking these matters together there was a real risk that any judgment would go unsatisfied because of disposal of assets. Given the sums of money involved and the admitted financial difficulties it was just and convenient in all the circumstances to continue the freezing order. (The precursor to the official investigation was an audit during which 49 files were passed to the LAA's counter-fraud team, whose conclusions included: "In respect of 42 of these 49 files HMCTS have confirmed that they have no record of there having been tribunal proceedings either in respect of the individual client or on the date when the file indicates...Following this, the LAA made inquiries of the NHS on a selection of files among the 42 that had no tribunal hearing and the NHS confirmed that they have no records relating to 16 of the clients... After completing this analysis the Applicant undertook a further comparison of all mental health tribunal claims against the HMCTS system. As a result of this analysis, it was found that the Company had submitted a total of 24,658 claims for attendance at tribunals of which 1485 (6%) tribunals were recorded by HMCTS as having taken place... After visiting the Company's Head Offce and requesting documentation from the Company and the Respondent, the LAA team used an electronic sampling tool to randomly select 144 cases for further investigation, across the last three complete financial years. Only 3% could be evidenced from HMCTS records...")
  • 31/01/16 (1): Deprivation of liberty case. Birmingham City Council v D (2016) EWCOP 8, (2016) MHLO 5(1) A parent cannot consent to the confinement (i.e. the objective element of Article 5 deprivation of liberty) of a child who has attained the age of 16. (2) The confinement was imputable to the state despite the accommodation being provided under s20 Children Act 1989, as the local authority had taken a central role; in any event, even if D's confinement were a purely private affair the state would have a positive obligation under Article 5(1) to protect him. (3) The judge did not resile from his previous judgment that D's parents could consent to his confinement in hospital when he was under 16.
  • 30/01/16 (2): MHLA: Panel course - London, 14/3/16 and 15/3/16 — The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running their Panel Course on Monday 14/3/16 and Tuesday 15/3/16 in London. The MHLA is an approved provider of the two-day course which must be attended by prospective members of the Law Society’s mental health accreditation scheme. Price: £300 (MHLA members); £390 (non-members); £270 (group discount). CPD: 12 hours. See MHLA website for further details and to book online.
  • 30/01/16 (1): MHLA: Panel course - Leeds, 2/3/16 and 3/3/16. — The Mental Health Lawyers Association are running their Panel Course on Wednesday 2/3/16 and Thursday 3/3/16 in Leeds. The MHLA is an approved provider of the two-day course which must be attended by prospective members of the Law Society’s mental health accreditation scheme. Price: £300 (MHLA members); £390 (non-members); £270 (group discount). CPD: 12 hours. See MHLA website for further details and to book online.
  • 28/01/16 (1): Legal Aid case. R (Sisangia) v Director of Legal Aid Casework (2016) EWCA Civ 24, (2016) MHLO 4This was a claim for false imprisonment and assault arising out of arrest and detention by the police. Paragraph 21 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 relates to Legal Aid for civil legal services under the heading "Abuse of position or powers by public authority". Following an initial refusal of Legal Aid, this case concerned the interpretation of sub-paragraph (4): "For the purposes of this paragraph, an act or omission by a public authority does not constitute an abuse of its position or powers unless the act or omission (a) is deliberate or dishonest, and (b) results in harm to a person or property that was reasonably foreseeable." The High Court had held that (a) paragraph 21(4) was a comprehensive definition of what was entailed in a claim for abuse of position or power (rather than a statement of the minimum criteria for such a claim), and (b) for the purposes of the definition in this case it was only the arrest itself that had to be deliberate (it was not necessary to allege that the arresting officers knew that they had no power of arrest). The Court of Appeal, allowing the appeal, held that: (a) the judge, in interpreting the words so that that any deliberate act by a public authority that causes reasonably foreseeable harm to another would count as an abuse of power, had ignored what it was that was being defined ("abuse of position or power") and gave no weight at all to the meaning of that phrase: abuse of position or power is a recognised juridical concept which, like many other public law concepts, is both flexible and context-specific and should, therefore, be given meaning in paragraph 21(4); (b) something more than an intentional tort (requiring only a deliberate act, such as, here, false imprisonment) is necessary before the impugned act becomes an "abuse of power": in this case it was not merely the fact of arrest, but the arrest without lawful justification, which had to be deliberate or dishonest. The Court of Appeal noted that a general policy not to fund purely money claims is what explains the anomaly that a claimant able to bring judicial review proceedings under paragraph 19 may add a claim for damages without having to satisfy any equivalent of paragraph 21(4). (There is also no equivalent in paragraph 20, for habeas corpus, or in paragraph 22, for significant breach of Convention rights.)
  • 27/01/16 (11): Conditional discharge/DOLS case. MM v WL Clinic (2016) UKUT 37 (AAC), (2016) MHLO 3Charles J refused permission to appeal his earlier decision (the main point of which was that, for the purposes of Article 5, a restricted patient with the capacity to do so can give a valid and effective consent to conditions of a conditional discharge that when implemented will, on an objective assessment, create a deprivation of liberty). The Secretary of State can seek permission from the Court of Appeal.
  • 27/01/16 (10): Anonymity case. R (C) v SSJ (2016) UKSC 2, (2016) MHLO 2(1) There is no presumption of anonymity in proceedings which are about the compulsory powers of detention, care and treatment under the 1983 Act: in each case the judge must decide whether or not anonymity is necessary in the interests of the patient. (2) On the facts, an anonymity order was necessary in the interests of this particular patient. Extracts from judgment: "The first issue before us is whether there should be a presumption of anonymity in civil proceedings, or certain kinds of civil proceedings, in the High Court relating to a patient detained in a psychiatric hospital, or otherwise subject to compulsory powers, under the Mental Health Act 1983 (“the 1983 Act”). The second issue is whether there should be an anonymity order on the facts of this particular case. ... The question in all these cases is that set out in CPR 39.2(4): is anonymity necessary in the interests of the patient? It would be wrong to have a presumption that an order should be made in every case. There is a balance to be struck. The public has a right to know, not only what is going on in our courts, but also who the principal actors are. This is particularly so where notorious criminals are involved. They need to be reassured that sensible decisions are being made about them. On the other hand, the purpose of detention in hospital for treatment is to make the patient better, so that he is no longer a risk either to himself or to others. That whole therapeutic enterprise may be put in jeopardy if confidential information is disclosed in a way which enables the public to identify the patient. It may also be put in jeopardy unless patients have a reasonable expectation in advance that their identities will not be disclosed without their consent. In some cases, that disclosure may put the patient himself, and perhaps also the hospital, those treating him and the other patients there, at risk. The public’s right to know has to be balanced against the potential harm, not only to this patient, but to all the others whose treatment could be affected by the risk of exposure. ... I conclude that an anonymity order is necessary in the interests of this particular patient. His regime before he left hospital, involving escorted leave in the community, demonstrated the need for anonymity and the case is even stronger now (as foreseen in R (M) v Parole Board). Without it there is a very real risk that the progress he has made during his long years of treatment in hospital will be put in jeopardy and his re-integration in the community, which was an important purpose of his transfer to hospital, will not succeed. I would therefore allow this appeal and maintain the anonymity order in place."

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