SSJ v SB [2013] UKUT 320 (AAC), [2013] MHLO 56

Deferred conditional discharge recommendation for technical lifer was unlawful as conditions would amount to deprivation of liberty.


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 2014 are available here: MHLR 2014.

Whether conditions imposed on a conditional discharge were unlawful because they amounted to detention - Secretary of State for Justice v SB – [2014] MHLR 46

Points Arising: Detention, which could only occur in a hospital, depended on the intensity of restrictions, such as their type, duration, effects, manner of implementation and purpose (ie whether they were designed to protect the patient or others).

Facts and Outcome: SB received life sentences in 1983, but had been in hospital under ss47/49 Mental Health Act 1983 since June 1985; in 1998, he was given “technical lifer” status, such that release would normally follow from a Tribunal recommendation under s74 of the 1983 Act. In January 2012, a Tribunal recommended discharge from a medium secure hospital; the conditions included residence at a hostel, leaving the hostel only under guidance of staff (and not at all in the first 13 weeks unless under the direction of staff), no alcohol, and compliance with what was required by various bodies (responsible clinician, social supervisor, care plan, Multi-Agency Public Protection Agency, Child Care Services). This was set aside on the basis that the cumulative effect of the conditions, imposed largely to protect the public, was detention; the rationale for this included the power in the hands of various people whose directions did not have to be reasonable or lawful.

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