Mental Health

We provide an extensive range of advice and assistance on all matters relating to mental health law.

Our team of Mental Health lawyers are members of the Law Society Mental Health Panel. We cover the whole of the North East region and can visit clients in hospital at short notice.

Please contact our Mental Health team to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices. We can also arrange to visit hospitals, care homes and prisons.

We offer the following services:

  • Representation at Mental Health Tribunals
  • Representation at Hospital Managers Meetings
  • Advising on Supervised Community Treatment
  • Rights of Nearest Relatives and Displacement Proceedings
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • Court of Protection
  • Entitlement to Aftercare Services under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act

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The Tribunal is an independent judicial body which reviews the cases of patients detained under the Mental Health Act. The Tribunal is a significant safeguard for detained patients. The Tribunal has to make a balanced judgment on a number of issues such as the patient’s diagnosis and the need for medical treatment; the freedom of the individual; the protection of the public and the best interests of the patient. It has the power to order discharge or make recommendations that a patient be granted leave from the hospital or be transferred into another hospital or into Guardianship with a view to facilitating discharge on a future date. The Tribunal may also recommend that a patient’s Responsible Clinician (usually their consultant psychiatrist) considers whether to make a Community Treatment Order.

Patients are eligible to appeal to the Tribunal at set intervals depending on their detention status. The hospital managers are under a duty to refer patients to the Tribunal at set intervals in the event the patient does not exercise their own right to appeal. Tribunal hearings are normally held in private and take place in the hospital where the patient is or used to be detained or a convenient community unit. Patients are entitled to free legal representation at Tribunals under Legal Aid.


Hospital Managers have the power to discharge patients from detention or supervised community treatment. This power is delegated to people appointed specifically for this purpose who are not officers or employees of the hospital concerned and have received suitable training. A meeting will normally be arranged at the request of a patient and must take place when a responsible clinician is renewing detention under the Mental Health Act.


This has been available since November 2008. Only patients who are detained under Section 3 or Section 37 can be considered for a Community Treatment Order (CTO). A Community Treatment Order works by suspending a Section 3 or Section 37. It allows a doctor to discharge a patient into the community, subject to certain conditions that the doctor imposes. He cannot make the decision to place a patient on a CTO himself – he will need to have the agreement of an Approved Mental Health Professional (probably a social worker).

It is not possible to appeal against the conditions. However, the patient has the right to appeal against the CTO itself to the Mental Health Tribunal and the Hospital Managers. The Tribunal cannot amend the conditions, but has the power to discharge the CTO.

The other important issue about the Community Treatment Order is that if the patient breaks any of the conditions, the consultant can consider whether or not to recall the patient to hospital. If recalled to hospital, the patient can be detained in hospital for up to 72 hours. The patient can be recalled to hospital even if s/he is complying with all the conditions if the consultant considers that the patient needs treatment in hospital. If, during that period, the consultant feels that the patient needs to stay in hospital for longer than that, then s/he can revoke the Community Treatment Order, and the Section 3 takes automatic effect. If this occurs the patient is automatically referred to the Tribunal.


We are experienced in acting for Nearest Relatives as well as patients. The Mental Health Act defines the nearest relative and it is important to note that the nearest relative may not be the same person as the patient’s next of kin. Nearest relative plays an important role – they should be consulted when a patient is detained and can take steps to order the patient’s discharge although it is possible for the patient’s doctor to bar the discharge. In certain circumstances a nearest relative is eligible to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal.

We can also advise on displacement proceedings in the County Court which involve removing someone as the patient’s nearest relative and appointing someone else.


Most patients discharged from acute care hospitals have statutory rights to a thorough process of discharge planning so that they are not discharged from hospital until it is clear that the needs they will have in the community are going to be met.

Many patients detained in psychiatric hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983 will become entitled to free aftercare services to meet the needs which arise from their mental health problems. The local authority and the local clinical commissioning group are jointly responsible for providing the necessary aftercare services.


We have a Legal Aid Agency Mental Health contract which means we are able to provide free representation at Mental Health Tribunals. Legal Aid may also be available for some of theĀ other services we offer subject to assessment.