January 2016 update

Case law

  • Conditional discharge/DOLS case. MM v WL Clinic [2016] UKUT 37 (AAC) — Charles 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 [and subsequently did].
  • Upper Tribunal case. WH v Partnerships in Care [2015] UKUT 695 (AAC), [2015] MHLO 132The tribunal, having decided that the appropriate treatment test in s72(1)(b)(iia) was met, refused to discharge a patient who had a diagnosis of dissocial personality disorder. (1) The Upper Tribunal allowed the appeal on the following grounds: (a) The appropriate treatment test relates only to the treatment that a patient is receiving at the detaining hospital, so the tribunal erred in law by considering the test met because treatment was available elsewhere. (b) The tribunal also erred in law by providing inadequate reasons: (i) the reasons were not set out by reference to the relevant criteria; (ii) the tribunal failed to address any of the solicitor's submissions about appropriate treatment; (iii) it was unclear what evidence was accepted or rejected, and why; (iv) the tribunal made findings which were wholly unsupported by the evidence. (2) The Upper Tribunal also stated that: (a) The tribunal is required to evaluate the evidence and reach its own conclusions, so was not obliged to accept the RC's opinion that no appropriate treatment was available; (b) Looking at the evidence as a whole, it was not necessarily the case that there was no evidence of appropriate treatment being provided to the patient; (c) It would be desirable for the MHRT for Wales to adopt the English Practice Direction on Reports, as the Welsh Rules provided little useful guidance, and full reports would have assisted in this difficult case; (d) The patient was currently detained in England so the Welsh tribunal was invited to transfer the case to England.§
  • 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."§
  • 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.§
  • Legal Aid case. R (Sisangia) v Director of Legal Aid Casework [2016] EWCA Civ 24, [2016] MHLO 4 — This 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.)
  • Inquest case. R (Speck) v HM Coroner for District of York [2016] EWHC 6 (Admin), [2016] MHLO 1 — "Drawing these strands together, my conclusions were as follows. First, that the duty of the coroner was limited to a duty to investigate those matters which caused, or at least arguably appeared to him to have caused or contributed to, the death. Secondly, that the claimant was unable to show even an arguable case that any body was at the material time under a duty, statutory or otherwise, to establish a health-based place of safety at a time, and in a location, such that Miss Speck could have been taken to such a facility in June 2011. Thirdly, that the claimant was therefore unable to show even an arguable case that Miss Speck's death was caused or contributed to by a breach of such a duty. Fourthly, that the coroner was therefore correct to decline to investigate issues as to the non-availability of a health-based place of safety: to have done so would have been to investigate matters which fell outside his statutory duty under section 5 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Lastly, that even if I had been persuaded that it was within the coroner's discretion to investigate such matters, I would have found there was no basis on which it could be said that his decision not to do so was a perverse or otherwise unlawful exercise of that discretion."

Office of the Public Guardian

  • Office of the Public Guardian, 'Local authority deputyship responsibilities' (Practice Note no 01/2016, 14/1/16). Summary from Government website: "The practice note explains the Office of the Public Guardian’s (OPG) guidance on local authority deputyship responsibilities, including important information for authorities considering entering into a contractual agreement with an external provider." See Office of the Public Guardian



  • MHLA: Panel course - London, 14/3/16 and 15/3/16No results
  • MHLA: Panel course - Leeds, 2/3/16 and 3/3/16.No results
  • British Psychological Society: Beyond Psychiatric Diagnosis - London, 22/6/16No results
  • CLT: Court of Protection training for paralegalsNo results
  • ESRC: Building the Care Act - Keele, 22/1/16.No results
  • PELT: Deprivation of Liberty made simple - Hoylake, 7/6/16.No results
  • PELT: Introduction to Forensic Patients - Hoylake, 2/6/16.No results
  • PELT: Mental Health Act Masterclass - Hoylake, 17/5/16.No results
  • PELT: Introduction to Care Act for those working with MHA or MCA - Hoylake, 26/4/16.No results
  • PELT: Court of Protection Masterclass - Hoylake, 19/4/16.No results
  • PELT: Depriving Children and Young People of their liberty lawfully - Hoylake, 14/4/16.No results
  • PELT: Introduction to MCA and DOLS - Hoylake, 5/4/16.No results
  • PELT: Introduction to the Mental Health Act - Hoylake, 29/3/16.No results
  • PELT: Introduction to using Court of Protection - Hoylake, 11/3/16.No results

Website and CPD

  • Mental Health Law Online CPD scheme: 12 points for £60. Obtain 12 CPD points online by answering monthly questionnaires. The scheme is an ideal way to obtain your necessary hours, or to evidence your continued competence. It also helps to support the continued development of this website, and your subscriptions (and re-subscriptions) are appreciated. For full details and to subscribe, see CPD scheme.