Mental health law briefing 162 – The liability of hospital managers for unlawful applications by an AMHP

The Court has recently considered the position of Hospital Managers who detain a patient following an application by an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) which is not in accordance with the Mental Health Act 1983.

In the recent case of TTM v. London Borough of Hackney & Others[1] the patient was admitted to hospital under Section 2 and subsequently detained under Section 3. His nearest relative, his brother, had initially recognised the need for treatment but had then objected to detention before the Section 3 was put in place.

The AMHP applied for detention under Section 3 without making reference to the objections of the Nearest Relative as she believed that the objection had been withdrawn.

The patient challenged the lawfulness of his detention. Initially the High Court rejected the application for Judicial Review on the basis that the AMHP had made an honest mistake. However, this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal who held that the patient had been lawfully detained but had then been wrongfully deprived of his liberty because of the unlawful conduct of the AMHP. The Court held that the AMHP had been conscientious but mistaken regarding the position of the Nearest Relative. The AMHP had therefore made an unlawful application for detention and as a result the patient was given permission to pursue a claim against the local authority.

However, the Court held that the Hospital Trust had acted lawfully in detaining the patient by virtue of Section 6(3) of the Act as the application for admission appeared to be duly made in accordance with the Act.

Comments

This case follows the previous line of authority in cases such as Re SC[2] which confirm that Hospital Managers are entitled to rely on an application which appears to be in order. However, this case further underlines that and will be of assistance in making it plain that applications for compensation should be addressed to the local authority responsible for the AMHP rather than the detaining hospital authority.

Andrew Parsons 
andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com
© RadcliffesLeBrasseur
February 2011


Footnotes

[1] [2011] EWCA civ 4
[2] Re SC (Mental patient habeas corpus) [1996] QB599


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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