Wrongful Detention Under the Mental Health Act

Wrongful Detention

The law sets out safeguards to ensure that detentions under the Mental Health Act are necessary. Professionals should ensure that alternatives are considered such as voluntary admission. Most detentions under section are legal. The proper way to challenge whether a section is needed is by an application to the independent Mental Health Tribunal which forms the best safeguard to protect a patient’s rights.

In a very few cases detentions are not valid. Your solicitor will always check the section papers which are application and supporting forms to make sure they have been completed correctly. The law allows for minor errors to be corrected but sometimes there is a major issue which means the detention is not valid. Examples can be where the wrong nearest relative was consulted or not consulted at all, (and an explanation of why they were not consulted is not given) forms unsigned or the wrong name for the patient.

If a hospital discovers a patient has been wrongfully detained they can assess whether a fresh application for a section could be made. This would not correct an earlier error but the new section would probably be valid.

We have experience of advising people who have been wrongfully detained and hospitals and social workers who are facing a possible claim. Wrongfully detained patients may be entitled to compensation.


more about Mental Health Solicitor

What is mental health law?

Mental Health Law.

Most of that law is contained in an Act of Parliament called the Mental Health Act. It has been amended several times and this year there has been further discussion about changing it.

Sometimes a person who has a mental illness is unaware of how bad it is, how it affects them and others, or whether they are ill at all. They may not always be able to make sound judgments. The law can allow others to make decisions on their behalf, including medical treatment, even when they refuse.

It is a delicate balance between wanting to protect people’s right to make their own decisions and the need to keep them and the public safe.

Often, we find that a person has been gradually getting ill over a number of years. Their family have been trying to get help and it has reached a crisis point.

The patient is admitted to hospital for a few weeks and then discharged. With little time to prepare, carers and family members find it difficult to access the necessary help and support when it is needed.

As specialists in Mental Health Law, we get involved when patients apply to a Mental Health Tribunal. The patient has a right to apply when they are detained in a psychiatric hospital and legal aid is available for this.

The tribunal is an independent panel of specialists who review whether the detention is necessary. Some patients are in hospital because they have committed a criminal offence and the court has sent them to a hospital to get treatment rather than go to prison.