Under the Mental Health Act of 2003, anyone has the right to appeal decisions taken by the Mental Health Tribunal. In this blog, we’ll take you through this process and which parties are normally involved, be that named persons, the patient themselves, or solicitors and welfare attorneys.
Who is involved in the appeals process?
The right of appeal applies to a ‘relevant party,’ which is subject to change depending on the specific decision that is being appealed. To summarise, the Mental Health Tribunal states that this almost always includes “the patient, the patient’s named person, any guardian of the patient, any welfare attorney of the patient, the mental health officer and the patient’s responsible medical officer.”
It’s important to remember that the Tribunal cannot provide advice to those who are considering filing an appeal against a tribunal decision. As a result, many patients who are involved in an appeal often choose to do so with the aid of a solicitor or welfare attorney, as this may help speed up the process.
When can you make an appeal?
According to the Mental Health Tribunal themselves, there are four main grounds for making an appeal:
- that the Tribunal decision was based on an error of law;
- that there has been a procedural impropriety in the conduct of any hearing by the Tribunal on the application;
- that the Tribunal has acted unreasonably in the exercise of its discretion;
- that the Tribunal’s decision was not supported by the facts found to be established by the Tribunal.
Outcome of an appeal
There are two main outcomes of any given appeal, as per section 324 of the 2003 Act:
- Change the decision, if it is deemed to be credible in light of new or unconsidered information.
- Submit the case to the tribunal for renewed consideration.
What is the timescale for an appeal process?
Any appeal made to the Mental Health Tribunal must be made within 21 days of the date of the decision being disputed. More information on this can be found on the Mental Health Tribunal website.
Contact Independent Psychiatry
If you are solicitor working with a client who is looking to appeal a decision by the Mental Health Tribunal, we can help. Please contact us directly, as we can help assess whether the criteria for detention are met, that guiding principles are being adhered to and that the least restrictive options have been given due consideration.