Overriding objective (MHT)
This is a new innovation in the Tribunal rules, which is borrowed from the Civil Procedure Rules. It is worth setting out rule 2 in full, as it is a useful tool for representatives when seeking directions etc:
Overriding objective and parties’ obligation to co-operate with the Tribunal 2.—(1) The overriding objective of these Rules is to enable the Tribunal to deal with cases fairly and justly.
(2) Dealing with a case fairly and justly includes—
- (a) dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate to the importance of the case, the complexity of the issues, the anticipated costs and the resources of the parties;
- (b) avoiding unnecessary formality and seeking flexibility in the proceedings;
- (c) ensuring, so far as practicable, that the parties are able to participate fully in the proceedings;
- (d) using any special expertise of the Tribunal effectively; and
- (e) avoiding delay, so far as compatible with proper consideration of the issues.
(3) The Tribunal must seek to give effect to the overriding objective when it—
- (a) exercises any power under these Rules; or
- (b) interprets any rule or practice direction.
(4) Parties must—
- (a) help the Tribunal to further the overriding objective; and
- (b) co-operate with the Tribunal generally.
The overriding objective was discussed in the first reported Upper Tribunal decision, Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v MHM at :
That requires parties to cooperate and liaise with each other concerning procedural matters, with a view to agreeing a procedural course promptly where they are able to do so, before making any application to the tribunal. This is particularly to be expected where parties have legal representation. … We stress that, in the context of an urgent application in the mental health jurisdiction, this liaison between the parties must not lead to any [avoidable] delay.
Paragraph (4) does not appear in the Welsh Rules.
The overriding objective featured in Re A  MHLO 14 (FTT), a case in which the patient successful argued for an all-female panel as the her mental state meant that she could only attend the hearing or pre-hearing medical examination if the panel were all female.