Mental health patients entitled to compensation for detention delays

Patients detained under the Mental Health Act are entitled to
compensation if there are delays in reviewing their cases, the high
court has ruled in a landmark decision, writes Craig

A judge awarded damages of between £750 and £4,000 to
six patients who had been detained for up to 27 weeks because of a
shortage of panel members on mental health review tribunals.

At an earlier hearing in the case last May, Mr Justice Stanley
Burton had ruled that delays and repeated adjournments of tribunal
hearings were in breach of the European Convention of Human

Adding the right to claim compensation last week, Judge Burton
acknowledged that the ruling was likely to open the floodgates to
similar applications.

Benjamin Conroy, solicitor for the patients, said the decision
had wider implications than mental health. ‘This ruling
affects parole boards, police stations, the courts – anywhere
where a person is compulsorily detained.’

In a separate high court case, a psychiatric patient who claimed
he was unlawfully detained for eight months had his compensation
claim rejected. It took eight months for social workers from
Doncaster council to find a suitable supervised hostel for the man,
in his 20s, once he was deemed fit for discharge from hospital.

But given the man’s violent history, Judge Burton found
that his caseworker had acted reasonably, and professionally in
objecting to his release until the right accommodation was

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