R (Ashworth) v MHRT; R (H) v Ashworth [2002] EWCA Civ 923

Appeal on MHRT decision dismissed; appeal on re-sectioning allowed. In a case where the availability of suitable after-care services is a pre-requisite for the discharge criteria to be met, but the Tribunal is in any doubt as to its availability, the Tribunal should adjourn rather than defer discharge to a future date.

Related judgments

On appeal from: R (Ashworth) v MHRT; R (H) v Ashworth [2001] EWHC Admin 901

Quotation from judgment

68. In agreement with the judge, I would therefore hold that H was a patient in respect of whom it was essential that the Tribunal considered the availability of suitable after-care services when deciding whether to order his immediate discharge from hospital. If the Tribunal had any doubt as to whether such services would be available, they should have adjourned to obtain any necessary information. I regard the alternative of a deferral under section 72(2) as less satisfactory. Section 72(3) authorises a tribunal to “direct the discharge of a patient on a future date specified in the direction”. Under this subsection, therefore, the tribunal must specify a particular date for discharge. But if the tribunal is in doubt as to whether suitable after-care arrangements will be made available, it is difficult to see how they can specify a particular date for discharge. In cases of doubt, the safer course is to adjourn. On the facts of the present case, the Tribunal could not reasonably have assumed that the services would be provided as soon as H was discharged into the community. For that reason alone, in my opinion the Tribunal’s decision was one which no reasonable tribunal could properly have made.

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