May 2011 update

Case summaries

  • RN v Curo Care [2011] UKUT 263 (AAC)(1) If the representative was right that the judge stated at the outset that the Tribunal would refuse to make a CTO recommendation, then reaching that firm conclusion (as opposed to an provisional opinion), and preventing the patient from arguing to the contrary, was a breach of natural justice and the ECHR right to a fair hearing. (2) In any event, the lack of reasons for not making the requested recommendation amounted to an error of law. (3) There would be no point in setting aside the decision if a recommendation were impossible or not a realistic possibility, but this was not a case where a CTO would never become a realistic option in the foreseeable future: the Tribunal can make a CTO recommendation not only if it considers that the criteria are satisfied (here it did not) but also in order to trigger consideration of future steps that could be taken to move the patient towards eventual release. (4) The decision was set aside and remitted to a differently-constituted panel for reconsideration.§
  • A Council v X [2011] EWHC B10 (COP)Direct contact between X, a 94 year old lady who lacked capacity due to advanced dementia, and her daughter Y was no longer in X's best interests.§
  • C v D [2011] EWCA Civ 646(1) A settlement offer which is time-limited is not capable of being a Part 36 offer; (2) in the context of the intention to comply with Part 36, the statement that the offer be 'open for 21 days' did not mean that it was a time-limited offer (rather, it was indicating that it could be withdrawn after 21 days); (3) on the facts, the Part 36 offer had not expired and was capable of acceptance.§
  • Re Parsonage (2011) COP 1/4/11The donor of an LPA inserted the following restriction: "My replacement attorneys under this lasting power shall not have authority to do any act, or take any decision, under this lasting power except in those circumstances where I lack capacity or where the replacement attorneys reasonably believe that I lack capacity or when I have signed that I wish the lasting power to come into effect by signing the lasting power again." On the application of the Public Guardian the words "or when I have signed that I wish the lasting power to come into effect by signing the lasting power again" were severed on the ground that re-execution of the LPA by the donor after completion and registration would contravene the execution requirements for an LPA. [OPG summary - LPA case.]§
  • Re Putt (2011) COP 22/3/11(1) Two LLP partners were appointed attorneys; the certificate provider, as an associate at the same firm, was ineligible to act; (2) A direction that 'My attorneys (or any of them) may delegate in writing any of his, her or their functions to any person and shall not be responsible for the default of that person (even if the delegation was not strictly necessary or expedient) provided that he, she or they took reasonable care in his, her or their selection and supervision' was 'not simply contrary but almost repugnant to the special relationship of personal obligation and faith that one might reasonably expect to exist between a donor and the attorney of an LPA'.§
  • Re CM; LBB v JM (2010) COP 5/2/10 — "The local authority took the view that since the intervention of the court would engage a potential breach of the Article 8 rights of the parties, that it may be incumbent upon them to establish on a factual basis why it was that the court's jurisdiction should be exercised. Broadly speaking, I would endorse that approach and recognise that where an Article 8.2 justification is required then the case should not be dealt with purely as a welfare case if there are significant factual issues between the parties which might bear on the outcome of the consideration under Article 8.2 as to whether state intervention was justified."§
  • Case update and transcript: Re Lodge (2010) COP 6/8/10Unfortunately by mistake the donor signed Part C and the attorney signed Part B of the EPA instrument. On the attorney's application the Court held that the donor's failure to execute the instrument correctly was a material defect and it was not a valid EPA. The attorney applied for a reconsideration of this order. By an order of the Senior Judge made on 14/3/11 the previous order was affirmed. [OPG summary - EPA case - transcript available.]§

Guidance documents

  • Updated Law Society practice note on representation before Mental Health Tribunals. This practice note, dated 19/5/11, advises on providing legal advice to clients appearing before the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in England and the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales. It has information under the following headings: (1) Introduction; (2) The right to legal advice and representation before the tribunal; (3) Communication with the client; (4) Taking instructions; (5) Your duties towards your client; (6) Good tribunal practice; (7) Representing children and young people before the tribunal; (8) More information. The previous version of 13/8/09 was criticised in AA v Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust [2009] UKUT 195 (AAC) - this version criticises that case. See Law Society practice note on representation before Mental Health Tribunals
  • Practice Note: Role of the Independent Mental Health Advocate in First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) Hearings — This guidance, issued in May 2011, clarifies the role that IMHAs should play in tribunal hearings. It contains the following main headings: (1) Introduction; (2) What Problems have Arisen?; (3) What is the Role of the IMHA?; (4) Attendance at the Hearing; (5) Relationship with the Legal Representative; (6) Giving Evidence; and (7) Access to the Tribunal’s Decision. The guidance, while acknowledging that an IMHA may be a 'representative' within the Tribunal Procedure Rules, is based on an expectation that ordinarily the IMHA should play a role distinct from the role of the legal representative.§

The Legal Aid Agency uses peer review to assess the quality of legal advice given to clients. A sample of files is taken from a firm, and reviewed by an independent peer reviewer who is a lawyer experienced in the relevant area of law. Peer review was introduced to address the lack of legal assessment of files, in contrast with the ‘tick-box’ approach of compliance audits.§



  • Guardian, 'Smokers win right to challenge hospital ban' (6/5/11). Silber J gave permission to seek judicial review of Chadwick Lodge's policy of prohibiting smoking on hospital grounds (indoors or outdoors) or on escorted community leave. See Mental health law in the media