Mental Health Tribunal
On 3/11/08 the Tribunal system changed. In England, the Mental Health Review Tribunal became part of the Health and Social Care Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. It is properly called the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) but in practice is often called the Mental Health Tribunal. In Wales the Tribunal is the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales.
The tribunal is the 'court' which convenes at the hospital at which the patient is detained and which determines whether the grounds for detention (or CTO or guardianship, etc) under the Act continue to exist. The panel consists of three members: the medical member, usually a consultant psychiatrist; the legal member (a lawyer, often a judge in restricted cases); and a lay member. From the patient's perspective, looking across the table, the medical member is on the left, the legal member is in the centre, and the lay member is on the right.
- Tribunal Rules
- Tribunal forms
- Eligibility periods. Applications can only be made within the correct eligibility periods.
- Statistics - Tribunal
The Tribunal and Article 5
Article 5(1), with para (1)(e), states:
- Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
- (e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;
Article 5(4) states:
- Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
The Tribunal is a 'court' as mentioned in Article 5(4) because it considers the patient's mental state and must discharge if the criteria for detention are no longer met (see s72,s73 and s74). If a Tribunal knows for sure that a person is not detained under the MHA 1983 (or that a Tribunal application is not valid) then it will not hold a hearing, as it does not have jurisdiction. That aside, the Tribunal ignores the underlying lawfulness of the detention as it role is only to consider the the patient's mental state on the day of the hearing: see, for example, R (von Brandenburg) v East London and City MH NHS Trust  UKHL 58 para 9. If it is believed that detention is unlawful and/or in breach of Article 5 then the patient is entitled to apply for judicial review and/or habeas corpus. Most detained patients would not themselves be able to notice that their detention is in breach of Article 5 or otherwise unlawful so good legal advice is necessary; in addition, hospitals scrutinise civil admission papers (see regulation 4 Mental Health (Hospital, Guardianship and Treatment) (England) Regulations 2008 and s15).
- Gov.uk: Guidance: Mental Health Tribunal contact details for professionals. Contact details can also be found on the following MHLO page: Contact:Mental Health Tribunal
- Mark Hinchliffe and Zoe Blake, 'Letter to all Hospitals regarding our Minimum Requirements' (11/4/18) — This is a covering letter for HMCTS, 'Minimum requirements for tribunal hearings to be held in hospitals' (11/4/18).
- HMCTS, 'Minimum requirements for tribunal hearings to be held in hospitals' (11/4/18) — This document states that "[a] hearing room is as essential to a psychiatric hospital as an operating theatre is to a surgical hospital" and that if hospitals do not adhere to the minimum requirements or obtain a written exemption then the tribunal "may consider holding its judicial hearings elsewhere". The main headings are (1) Minimum standards of safety and security, and (2) Minimum requirements for facilities and amenities.
- Gov.uk website: HMCTS: Complaints procedure†. The complaints email address used to be email@example.com (check if still current). Chamber President's office email: presidentsoffice.HESC@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
Older material is available on the following page: Mental Health Tribunal archive