TTM (By his Litigation Friend TM) v Hackney London Borough Council and East London NHS Foundation Trust and Secretary of State for Health [2010] EWHC 1349 (Admin) QBD (Admin) (Collins J) 11/6/2010

Laura represented the Claimant in this recent ground-breaking case. The Court held that it did not follow that a patient’s detention was unlawful even where their admission was unlawful due to the objection of a nearest relative which had resulted in the issue of a writ of habeas corpus. Collins J found that such a detention was not void ab initio, but only became unlawful when the court so declared. The Court found no violation of the right to compensation under Article 5(5) of the ECHR because there had been no breach of Article 5(1), and therefore did not consider the potential incompatibilities under s.6(3) and s.139(1) of the Act. Further, the best interests of the patient could override the requirement in s.12(2) for one of the medical recommendations to be provided by a medical practitioner with previous knowledge of the patient.

Permission under s.139(2) of the Mental Health Act 1983 was refused as the AMHP had been neither malicious nor negligent. However, Collins J granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. As a consequence of the decision, no psychiatric patient who is unlawfully admitted may ever gain damages for unlawful detention unless a hospital refuses to act on a writ of habeas.

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