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MH v UK 11577/06 [2013] ECHR 1008, [2013] MHLO 94

(1) The ECtHR considered this case, which involved a patient lacking capacity to apply to the tribunal, in three separate stages: (a) The first 27 days of detention under s2. With some emergency detentions a habeas corpus application might be a sufficient remedy, but with this one it would have been wholly unreasonable to expect such an application. Additionally, it would not have been reasonable to expect her nearest relative via solicitors to request a tribunal reference from the Secretary of State. Therefore, neither the patient nor her nearest relative were able in practice to avail themselves of the normal remedy granted by the 1983 Act because the special safeguards required under Article 5(4) for incompetent mental patients in a position such as hers were lacking. There was a violation of Article 5(4). The necessary special safeguards 'may well include empowering or even requiring some other person or authority to act on the patient’s behalf' (i.e. referring the case to the tribunal). (b) The period between the extension of s2 by s29 displacement proceedings and the tribunal's decision not to discharge. The Secretary of State, in circumstances where refusal would prevent a speedy judicial decision, has no discretion but is under a duty to make a tribunal reference. In this case: (i) there was such a tribunal within a month, which was not an unreasonably long period; and (ii) the fact that there was a tribunal meant that the patient was not a victim of the alleged shortcoming in the mental health system. There was no Article 5 breach. The situation of a patient without a nearest relative willing and able, through solicitors, to seek a reference was raised by the court but not considered. (c) The period between the tribunal decision and the patient's move from hospital. During this period, the legal basis of detention was no longer s29 but was the tribunal's judicial decision not to discharge. A judicial decision does not endure eternally, so a patient detained for an indefinite or lengthy period is subsequently entitled to take proceedings at reasonable intervals, but the four-month period in this case was not sufficient to breach Article 5. (2) No claim for just satisfaction was made so no compensation was ordered. (3) Legal costs were reduced to €5250 from the €5825.06 sought.

Related cases

MH v UK 11577/06 [2013] ECHR 1008, [2013] MHLO 94

External link

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Lucy Series, 'MH v UK: Implications for the deprivation of liberty safeguards' (23/10/13)