Please Note Where the text refers to “you”, it means the patient
You, your legal representative or your ‘nearest relative’ can apply for a hearing. Click here for an application form.
The purpose of a hearing is to determine whether you should be discharged from hospital, and if so when, and in some cases on what conditions.
In addition to the Tribunal Panel and yourself, the other people who will normally attend the hearing are your treating psychiatrist or a member of their team, a nurse, and a representative of the social services department, plus your legal representative, if you choose to have one. If you so wish, your nearest relative can also attend.
Tribunal hearings take place at the hospital where you are detained, and are held in private unless you request otherwise, and the Tribunal agrees.
Most of the people who attend, including yourself.
If you need an interpreter, then, as far as possible, either Mental Health Services or the Tribunal will arrange for one to attend. If you have other special needs e.g. Deaf Interpretation, this can also be arranged by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal Judge will introduce the Tribunal panel and the representing parties at the start of the hearing.
Members of the Tribunal Panel will, in turn, ask you questions, and will also pose questions to your psychiatrist and anyone else involved in your case. You have the right to choose not to reply if you wish and let your legal representative respond on your behalf.
After hearing the evidence, the Tribunal will adjourn the proceedings to make its decision in private. This is generally done straight away. The Tribunal will then call everyone back in to the hearing room and give its decision.
Is your right not to have a legal representative, or to represent yourself. A legal representative can however be very useful as they will explain the law to you and protect your best interests. If you employ a legal representative, it will be at no cost to yourself. You can obtain a legal representative by asking the Mental Health Act Administrator in your hospital to provide you with a list of names. Alternatively, you can contact The Law Society and ask them to put you in touch with a member of their specialist panel.The Law Society
Telephone 01527 517141 ext 3286
Email Patricia Fearn.
Everyone who attends the hearing must keep the matter private. The Tribunal members, Mental Health Services staff and legal representatives are all bound by confidentiality and are not permitted to discuss the proceedings with outsiders. The Tribunal’s decision may be told only to people who need to know, (e.g. medical and nursing staff).
Usually, a case manager or treating psychiatrist will give you a Notice of Hearing from the Tribunal and explain about the hearing. In some instances, the Tribunal will send a notice of hearing directly to you.
The Mental Health Act Administrator in your hospital has the responsibility to show you copies of any documents they send to the Tribunal as evidence, such as medical reports. The doctor should also explain when and where the hearing will take place, and what they intend to tell the Tribunal at the hearing. In addition, you may have your own legal representative who will explain your rights to you. See the comments in 'Does there need to be a legal representative' above.
It is your right to attend a Tribunal hearing and to have the opportunity to present your case. If you have a strong objection to attending the hearing, the Tribunal will ask for proof that you have declined to attend of your own free will. If satisfied that is the case, the Tribunal can decide to proceed with the hearing in your absence.
You are a restricted patient if a Crown Court made a ‘restriction order’ against you as part of your mental health act section. The court will have made such an order if they believed this was necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm. If you are subject to a restriction order, it can only be discharged by the Ministry of Justice or by a Tribunal, presided over by a judge or a specialist QC.
The Mental Health Act 1983 sets out a statutory list of the persons who are a patient’s relatives and gives priority to the first on the list. The list includes a civil partner. Your legal representative or the hospital Mental Health Act Administrator will be able to assist you as to who is your nearest relative.