Applications to the first-tier tribunal (mental health)
What is this?
If a person is under a section of the Mental Health Act 1983, they are entitled appeal to a tribunal if they wish, at intervals (depending on the section they are under.)
The tribunal is usually made up of three independent people, a doctor, a judge and a lay person. They will consider whether the person continues to meet the criteria under the Mental Health Act that keeps a person on their section.
The tribunal can discharge a person if it thinks it is appropriate. The tribunal can in some circumstances make recommendations about a person having more leave or being transferred to another hospital.
The tribunal may also in some circumstances, say a person should be discharged on a date in the future.
If the tribunal does not have enough information to make a decision about whether a person could be discharged or not, they can adjourn for more information.
It usually takes between 6 and 10 weeks to have a hearing, depending on which section a person is under.
The person can ask to see the tribunal doctor before the hearing in private.
How can I apply to the tribunal?
If the person is eligible to apply to the tribunal, depending on which section they are under, they can either ask the hospital to help them apply, usually with the help of an advocate, or they can contact a solicitor and they will help.
A solicitor will consider the case and advise on the prospects of succeeding at a tribunal, or what steps the person might want to consider taking before applying.
A solicitor will usually represent the person at the tribunal hearing and ask questions of the treating team on their behalf.
Applying to the tribunal is free, as the person is entitled to legal aid to do so, whatever their means are.