HHD Solicitors’ Case Reaches the UK Supreme Court: challenging the continuation of a patient’s detention under the Mental Health Order 1986

Proceedings had been brought on behalf of our client to the Mental Health Review Tribunal for discharge from detention following an Order in 2018 that he be admitted to hospital under a restraining order upon conviction for violent and sexual offences and when he was found unfit to plead.

The original decision of the Review Tribunal that he should continue to be detained was ruled upon by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland where it found in favour of our client rejecting an earlier ruling that a proposed period of leave of absence from hospital under Article 15 of the Order, with the consent of the Department of Justice, constituted detention in hospital for medical treatment thereby satisfying the statutory test for continued detention.

The decision of the Court of Appeal was appealed by the Department of Justice and the Review Tribunal to the Supreme Court and is to be heard by the Court on 15 and 16 November 2023. The Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care have been granted permission to intervene.

The issues to be addressed include the respective legislative tests for detention under the law of Northern Ireland compared to that of England and Wales, the test for detention when a leave of absence is involved and the lawfulness of a detention when no continuing hospital treatment may be involved. The eventual verdict will likely have an impact upon the interpretation and application of mental health law involving the continued detention of patients.

HHD Solicitors’ representation in the case, led by Partner Mr Deazley, demonstrates our commitment to addressing the legal complexities and ethical challenges in an area of law of this nature to uphold the rights of detained patients. The outcome has the potential to further shape the understanding and implementation of mental health law within the Northern Ireland and UK legal framework.