chapter  81
10 Pages

Mental Health Tribunals

WithCarole Burrell

The Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) arrived on the mental health landscape following the implementation of the Mental Health Act 1959. The MHRT was recognition of the need for detained mental health patients to have access to an independent and impartial body with the power to review the patient’s detention and to order the patient’s discharge from it. However, the Act did not provide access to the MHRT for all those patients detained under its provisions. By way of example access by patients detained under a hospital order with restrictions attached, was by means of a reference by the secretary of state and the MHRT powers in such cases were very limited. In 1981 the European Court of Human Rights in the case of X v. United Kingdom1 recognized that this omission breached the rights of such patients (specifically the right under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to take proceedings at reasonable intervals before a court to review the lawfulness of the detention), and shortly thereafter amending legislation was enacted to remedy the position.