Croke v Ireland 33267/96 [2000] ECHR 680

The applicant's case under Article 5 (about the absence of an independent and automatic review prior to or immediately after his initial detention in a psychiatric institution and about the absence of a periodic, independent and automatic review of his detention thereafter) was struck out of the list on the basis of a friendly settlement based on the Southern Irish government's intention to enact the Mental Health Bill 1999 to replace the Mental Treatment Act 1945.


The summary below has been supplied by Kris Gledhill, Editor of the Mental Health Law Reports. The full report can be purchased from Southside Online Publishing (if there is a "file not found" error, it means this particular report is not yet available online). More similar case summaries from the year 1999 are available here: MHLR 1999.

The compatibility of Irish legislation with Art 5 ECHR - Sean Croke v Ireland [1999] MHLR 118

Points Arising: The absence of an automatic independent judicial review of detention at the outset and on a periodic basis raised issues under Arts 5(1) and (4) that required consideration on the merits.

Facts and Outcome: C had been admitted several times to psychiatric hospitals in Ireland; he challenged whether the legislative regime, in the Mental Treatment Act 1945, was compatible with Art 5(1) and (4) ECHR. The Irish Supreme Court had held that the statutory regime satisfied the constitutional guarantee against arbitrary detention. The legislation provided for admission on the basis of a certificate from a doctor and a second certificate from a medical officer at the hospital; release was determined by the hospital or the Minister of Health, and the Inspector of Mental Hospitals could alert the hospitals or the Minister to concerns about whether a patient should remain in hospital; the Irish Supreme Court had held that this regime had to be operated in a manner that was not arbitrary and had regard to the patient’s right to liberty unless he or she was of unsound mind, in need of care and treatment and had not recovered, which obliged the detaining authorities to review detention regularly. In addition, habeas corpus was available, under which the onus was placed on the detaining authority to show that the patient was of unsound mind and in need of care and treatment, the statutory procedures had been complied with, the patient has not recovered, and there was no unnecessary deprivation of liberty. Further, the President of the High Court could order the Inspector to visit a patient and also had an inherent discretion to release a patient (though this power had never been exercised). C’s argument that automatic, independent reviews were required after detention and on a periodic basis was found to raise serious issues that required determination on the merits and so was admissible.

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