We know how stressful mental health law issues can be, not just for individuals, but also for their friends and family. This is a complex and difficult area of law involving sensitive issues which can often be highly emotional. Anyone facing legal mental health issues should expect nothing less than the best advice from competent lawyers with extensive training and experience in this field.
The number of people being affected by mental health is increasing every year. This includes a significant number of people being detained in hospital against their will. Often this will leave people feeling vulnerable and isolated with no understanding of their rights and entitlements. People need to understand that they are not alone in such situations and they have the right to have a solicitor fighting for their rights. The Mental Health Department at TV Edwards is passionate about helping people affected by mental health law issues. Our team choose to work in this field because we believe no one should be left feeling isolated or alone. We pride ourselves in being knowledgeable, caring lawyers who will not back away from a fight in the pursuit of your legal and civil liberties.
TV Edwards offer an approachable, accessible, reliable team of specialist lawyers who care about getting the best possible outcome for you. We are regarded as one of the leading firms of Mental Health Solicitors in England and Wales. We have been described in the independent legal directory, the Legal 500, as representing clients with ‘the utmost dignity and discretion’.
The quality of representation provided by TV Edwards in the area of mental health law is supported by us being awarded a rating of “competence plus” as part of the Legal Aid Agencies Independent Peer Review process. This means that we not only meet the required level of competence expected from all firms practicing in Mental Health law but that TV Edwards employs tactics and strategies to achieve the best outcomes for clients, adds value to the cases we work on, provide full and correct advice tailored to our clients circumstances and take a proactive approach. This rating signifies that TV Edwards provide work to a “high degree of competence”.
The mental health team at TV Edwards provide professional advice and assistance to a high standard in respect of all aspect of the Mental Health Act including but not limited to:
- Section 2 admission for assessment.
- Section 3 admission for treatment.
- Section 7 guardianship.
- Section 17A Community Treatment Orders.
- Section 37 hospital order.
- Section 37/41 hospital order with restriction order.
- Section 47 and 48 transferred prisoners.
All our solicitors, paralegals and trainees undergo regular internal and external training in order to ensure we maintain the high standard of representation required in this field. All our lawyers in the Mental Health Department are members of the Law Society’s Mental Health Panel Accreditation.
We have a strong legal aid background which is important to us as we care about providing quality services to the most vulnerable in society. We also offer competitive private rates for those who are not eligible for legal aid or otherwise want to privately fund their case. Our team is experienced in representing individuals and organisations from all walks of life. Please see below for further details on funding your case and our frequently asked questions.
How TV Edwards Work
We will use clear language in all our dealings with you and hope that we are able to reduce your burden and worry. That’s important to us. We aim to deliver the service you need in a way that suits you, so we make sure that we are available in person, by telephone or via our online service. We recognise that it may not always be easy or practicable to make journeys, and we don’t expect you to come to us, we can arrange hospital visits.
When you instruct TV Edwards you can be assured that your case will be handled with competence and confidence. Our service is about making the law work for you, and always acting in your best interests. Our Mental Health team is supported by colleagues who specialise in other areas of law such as criminal defence, housing, community care and family law. This means that, whatever the issue, there will be experts on hand to advise you. It’s a holistic, tailored service which is valued by our clients.
What TV Edwards solicitors will do
We can advise on and represent you in all aspects of mental health. Here is a snapshot of our work:
- Representation at Mental Health Tribunals and Hospital Managers’ hearings.
- Providing advice and assistance at Hospital Manager’s hearings.
- Advice and assistance on the rights of detained patients including voluntary / informal patients.
- Advising and assisting at Section 117 and Care Programme Approach (CPA) meetings as well as other meetings.
- The provision of aftercare services and challenges in respect of this.
- Judicial Review of unlawful decisions made by the Mental Health Second Tier Tribunal, NHS Trusts, Social Services and Local Authorities.
- Applications for immediate release (habeas corpus)
- Advising nearest relatives on their powers under the Mental Health Act.
- Acting for patients and nearest relatives in relation to displacement proceedings in the County Court.
- Acting for prisoners with mental health issues.
- Appeals to the Upper Tier Tribunal.
- Human Rights Act challenges.
- Advice on Consent to Treatment provisions under the Mental Health Act.
Funding your case
If you instruct us on a challenge of your detention to a mental health tribunal, you will be entitled to free representation.
In most other situations we can act for you under a form of legal aid, which means that the cost of your case is wholly or partly paid for from public funds. This is only available to people with limited means and with the approval of the Legal Aid Agency. We can help you work out whether or not you are eligible for legal aid and, if you are, we’ll guide you through the application process.
Where Legal Aid is not available or if you wish to receive our services on a private basis, we can quote you competitive rates for our work.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mental disorder?
A mental disorder is defined under section 1 of the Mental Health Act 1983 as any disorder or disability of the mind. This definition can include a learning disability but only if it is associated with ‘abnormally aggressive’ or ‘seriously irresponsible conduct’.
What does is mean to be an informal or voluntary patient?
Where a person agrees to be admitted as a patient to a psychiatric hospital, they are volunteering to stay at the hospital to cooperate with an assessment of and treatment for their mental health. A voluntary patient can refuse treatment and self-discharge if they wish. If however there are concerns about risks to the patients’ health, safety or the protection of other persons due to their mental health, it is possible that they can be prevented from leaving by being detained under a section of the Mental Health Act.
What does it mean to be detained on a section of the Mental Health Act?
This means being placed in a psychiatric hospital without the person’s consent and against their will. There are various sections of the Mental Health Act which allow detention in hospital in this way. This can be done following a formal assessment of a person’s mental state. The detention has to be recommended and or approved by mental health professionals. Sometimes it can be imposed by a court.
What can a person do if they disagree with being detained in a hospital on a section?
This depends on the section under which the person is being detained. In the majority of cases the person will have the right to apply for a Tribunal hearing to challenge the detention. They may also have the option of requesting a Hospital Manager’s hearing. In some cases the person can ask their nearest relative (as defined under the Mental Health Act) to make a discharge application.
What is a tribunal?
A Tribunal is a hearing before a panel of 3 specialist Tribunal panel members. The panel consists of a medical member, a legal member and a specialist member. It’s like having a court hearing but it is held in a psychiatric hospital. The panel will read reports specially prepared for the hearing and listen to the opinions of the professionals involved in the case. They will also listen to the views of the person who is being detained and any legal arguments in favour of discharge.
What are the powers of the tribunal?
The Tribunal has the power to direct the detained patient’s discharge from hospital. They can also uphold the patient’s continued detention and in some cases they have powers to make recommendations with a view to facilitating a patient’s future discharge.
What is a Hospital Managers’ hearing?
A patient can request to have a Hospital Managers hearing whilst detained under the Mental Health Act. A Hospital Manager’s hearing is similar to a Tribunal hearing. The difference is that instead of specialist Tribunal panel members dealing with the hearing, it is dealt with by Hospital Managers. These Managers are usually independent of the hospital but not of the hospital trust. They have similar powers to that of the Tribunal.
Who is the nearest relative?
The nearest relative is defined under section 26 of the Mental Health Act. The Act sets out in order the people who can be a patient’s nearest relative. The nearest relative will generally be identified as the person who is highest on the list, working from the top down. For example, a husband, wife or civil partner is at the top of the list. If the detained patient does not have a husband, wife or civil partner, the next category of person down the list is considered and so on. This is a very basic explanation of identifying the nearest relative and there are additional rules in some cases. If you are unsure as to who the nearest relative is, then you should always seek the advice of a professional who is familiar with the rules.
What is the nearest relative’s power of discharge?
One of the most important functions of a nearest relative is their power of discharge which depends on the section under which the patient is being detained. In appropriate cases, the nearest relative can write a letter to the Hospital Manager’s to express their wish for their detained relative to be discharged from hospital. However, the discharge can be blocked by the patient’s responsible consultant psychiatrist if they believe the patient is likely to act in a manner dangerous to him or herself or others. If a nearest relative’s discharge is blocked, the patient may be referred for a Hospital Manager’s hearing and the nearest relative may have the power to apply for a Tribunal hearing.
Can a person being detained under the Mental Health Act be forced to take medication?
Putting it simply, yes, a detained person can be forced to take medication. If the person is a detained patient under sections 2, 3, 36, 37, 38, 45A, 47 or 48 then the consent to treatment provisions of the Mental Health Act will apply. This means the patient can be given treatment without his or her consent for the first 3 months of their section, after which a second opinion must be obtained.
What is section 117 aftercare
Section 117 aftercare is the provision of appropriate aftercare services to a person in the community following their discharge from a psychiatric hospital. These services are free of charge. It only applies to a patient who has been discharged from hospital following detention under sections 3, 37, 37/41, 45A, 47 or 48.
What is a Care Pathway Approach meeting?
A Care Pathway Approach (CPA) meeting is a review of the care plan by the professionals involved in a patient’s case. They will discuss the progress made, feed this back to the patient and decide how best to support the needs of the patient in the future. You can ask for a solicitor to attend this type of meeting to provide advice and assistance. This shouldn’t be confused with a ward round which is a weekly review of a patients progress in hospital. A ward round is not a legal meeting and one which a solicitor is generally unable to attend.
Can I get legal advice on my rights? Will I have to pay?
Legal Aid for advice and assistance may be available for either the detained person or a nearest relative, subject to them qualifying on an assessment of their finances and there being a realistic prospect of success. A person being detained in hospital and who requires advice and assistance in relation to a tribunal application is entitled to free and independent legal advice. They will qualify automatically for Legal Aid without the need for their finances to be means tested. The same applies for a person subject to compulsory treatment in the community and wishes to consider the making of a tribunal application. This can also include a nearest relative eligible to make a tribunal application.