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Mental Health Tribunal Handbook
Sarah Johnston, Sophy Miles and Dr Claire Royston
Cover of Mental Health Tribunal Handbook
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First edition |  April 2015  | 548pp
ISBN: Pb 978 1 903307 89 2

Mental Health Tribunal Handbook will help those who are new to this demanding, fascinating and rewarding area of practice and also will provide an accessible reference point for the experienced practitioner.

The Mental Health Act 1983 is an Act with exceptional reach.  It is a mechanism by which the state can take control of those with mental disorders which place them, or others, at risk. Its use can save lives but detention under the Act is also one of the most intrusive interventions in a person's life.

Mental Health Tribunal Handbook provides a comprehensive guide to the relevant provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983, its Code of Practice and its interaction with the Mental Capacity Act 2005, with particular reference to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, the Tribunal Procedure Rules 2008 and domestic and European case-law.

Practitioners representing clients in the mental health tribunal need a thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory framework governing the care, treatment and detention of patients. But they also need to understand mental disorder, how to deal with psychiatric reports and, crucially, the importance of building a relationship of trust with the client in order to present the best legal representation. 

Contents include:

Purpose of the Mental Health Act and key concepts > civil sections: admission, transfer and community treatment > mentally disordered offenders > consent to treatment > mental health tribunals > Mental Health Act 1983 Parts 6-10 > Mental Capacity Act 2005 and DOLS > children and young people > regulation, ethics and guidance > funding > evidence gathering and preparation > the process before hearing > the hearing > appeals > understanding mental disorder > top ten cases > appendices: Tribunal Procedure Rules, practice directions, guidance forms, standard letters and section papers checklists.

The authors have many years' experience both representing clients and sitting on the tribunal panel. With a combined legal and medical background they are uniquely placed to guide practitioners through the procedural steps of taking a case from initial instructions through to hearings and, where necessary, to appeals to the Upper Tribunal. There is guidance on psychiatric concepts, expert witnesses and reports and advice on preparation, effective communication and skilled advocacy throughout the tribunal process.

See the full contents here 


Sarah Johnston was called to the Bar in 1989 in New Zealand where she practised family and criminal law until 1993. She then worked for the Global Alliance against Traffic in Women in Thailand until she came to the UK in 1997 where she worked as a mental health and public law solicitor and was awarded an LLM in Human Rights Law in 2001. Sarah was head of the mental health department at Scott Moncrieff Harbour and Sinclair from 2003, representing patients
in the tribunal and in judicial review proceedings, and while there led the Legal Services Commission's Specialist Support in mental health. She was appointed as a salaried judge of the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in 2009 and was one of the first tribunal judges to sit on restricted cases. She now also sits in the Special Educational
Needs Tribunal. Sarah is also an appraiser and trainer of other judicial office holders within the mental health jurisdiction.

Sophy Miles was a founding partner at Miles and Partners LLP where she led the mental health and capacity team for 16 years, before becoming a consultant. She is a fee-paid judge of the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health). Sophy is co-author of Court of Protection Handbook (LAG, 2014) and writes the regular Court of Protection updates in Legal Action. She chairs the Law Society's mental health and disability committee and is an active member of the Mental Health Lawyers Association committee. She is an accredited mediator (Regent's University London). Sophy was called to the Bar in March 2015 and is a member of Doughty Street Chambers, London.

Dr M Claire Royston, MB ChB MSc FRCPsych, qualified at the University of Manchester and was registered as a specialist in General Adult and Old Age Psychiatry in 1997. She was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2005 and was Vice-President of the Royal Society of Medicine between 2004 and 2006. Dr Royston has
held a number of senior level positions including lead psychiatrist for the Mental Health Act Commission and medical member and trainer for the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health). Dr Royston is the Group Medical Director for Four Seasons Health Care, the UK's largest independent health and social care provider with a national network of more than 500 services providing personalised residential, nursing and dementia care and specialist mental health hospitals.


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