Updated: coronavirus guidance on Mental Health Tribunal hearings

Further to Sarah Garrood’s blog post yesterday, new updated guidance has now been provided by the Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Ernest Ryder dated 19 March and published today.

We look at the key changes.

For the next six months the pilot will be in place. It amends the position so that a judge alone shall make every decision, unless it is considered inappropriate to do so in particular cases. It will then revert back to a two/three person panel.

The decision to move away from one judge will be made by the Chamber President, Deputy Chamber President or such other salaried judge as authorised by the Chamber President.

Where cases have been referred to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) via section 68 Mental Health Act or a patient is a community patient aged 18 and over, the FTT should suggest to them or their legal representatives that the proceedings are dealt with on papers, unless it is considered inappropriate in line with the overriding objective.

If the FTT receive notice that a hearing is not required, they may consider the case on the papers, in line with Rule 35(3) of the Tribunal Rules 2008.

The Practice Direction acknowledges that pre-hearing assessments under Rule 34 will not be ‘practicable’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and these will therefore not take place.

If you have any queries as to how COVID-19 is going to affect tribunals or hospital managers hearings, please contact Molly Sanghera or a member of our team.

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