QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF A||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT||(FIRST DEFENDANT)|
|THE MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW TRIBUNAL||(SECOND DEFENDANT)|
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MISS E LAING (instructed by The Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
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Monday, 10 February 2003
"The Tribunal accepts the evidence of Dr Warren, Dr Mikhail and Miss Martin and recommends a conditional discharge to be deferred until suitable accommodation, as approved as Dr Warren, has been identified."
That conditional discharge never took effect.
"Unless the application belongs to a class or group of proceedings for which members have already been appointed, the members of the tribunal who are to hear the application shall be appointed by the chairman."
Mr Bowen submits that the application to be heard on Friday does belong to a class or group of proceedings for which members have already been appointed. That submission is supported by a note at paragraph 3-030 to Richard Jones' helpful Mental Health Acts Manual. Rule 8 has to be construed together with rule 17, to which my attention has also been drawn and which is the other rule which is particularly relevant in the present context. Rule 17(1) is as follows:
" Where any proceedings in relation to a patient have not been disposed of by the members of the tribunal appointed for the purpose, and the chairman is of the opinion that it is not practicable or not possible without undue delay for the consideration of those proceedings to be completed by those members, he shall make arrangements for them to be heard by other members of the tribunal."
The present proceedings are, in the light of IH and C, proceedings in relation to a patient which have not been finally disposed of. It seems to me, therefore, that apart from the question of the transfer of jurisdiction from one tribunal area to another, rule 17(1) would apply. Equally, it follows from that that in a case such as the present rule 8(1) does not apply, on the basis that this is neither a class nor group of proceedings, but, effectively, one set of proceedings which have not been finally disposed of.
"Where a patient in respect of whom proceedings are pending moves within the jurisdiction of another tribunal, the proceedings shall, if the chairman of the tribunal originally having jurisdiction over those proceedings so directs, be transferred to the tribunal within the jurisdiction of which the patient has moved and notice of the transfer of proceedings shall be given to the parties and, in the case of a restricted patient, the Secretary of State."
Mr Bowen accepts that that paragraph of rule 17 applies in the present case. It is implicit, of course, in that that there has been a move out of the jurisdiction in respect of proceedings which have been pending. The purpose of rule 17(2) is obvious: most Tribunal hearings, if not all, take place within a hospital in which a patient is detained. The jurisdiction of the various Mental Health Review Tribunals is territorial. While there will be members of Tribunals who may sit as members within the area of more than one Tribunal, that will not necessarily be the case. Moreover, the administration of the tribunals is similarly local and, in most cases, it will, therefore, be convenient, practical and appropriate for the Tribunal office and chairman dealing with interlocutory matters and the arrangement of hearings to be that of the area in which the hospital in which the claimant is detained is located. That happened in the present case.
"We are instructed that neither Dr Nott [the original medical member of the tribunal] nor Mrs MacKean [the lay member] are available to sit on the Tribunal on 14 February 2003, and the chairman is of the view that it would not be practicable to delay the proceedings further to arrange their attendance."
That is not as clear as one would have liked in an ideal situation as to the consideration given as to whether Dr Nott or Mrs MacKean would be available from dates after 14 February 2003, but I do read it as an expression by the chairman through the Treasury Solicitor that neither of them would be available on dates subsequent to 14 February without undue delay to the proceedings. The question of undue delay is addressed in rule 17(1), and, indeed, there is a duty on the Tribunal to grant a speedy hearing of the present application under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights. There is nothing before me to indicate that the decision made by the chairman, as communicated in the letter of 31 January 2003, is perverse.