Mental Health Law

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 came into force in 2005.  It completely revamped the area of Mental Health Law with the principal aim being to better protect and safeguard the rights of the individual being made subject to a mental health order.  The Human Rights of the individuals concerned was the major focus.

The Act established the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.  Historically, if an individual suffering from a mental health disorder required to be detained in hospital for either assessment or treatment, there was a very brief hearing before a Sheriff with often very little enquiry made into the background of the detention request.  One of the main problems with this was that the person suffering from a deterioration in their mental health was often brought to a sheriff court for such a Hearing.  Understandably the process was deemed wholly unsuitable.  Since then there has been a complete shift with the creation of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland which ensures that more appropriate locations are provided for Hearings and puts the individual concerned at the heart of the decision making process.

The position now is that if an application is made by a psychiatrist to detain an individual for either assessment and/or treatment of a mental health disorder, a Hearing must take place before a Tribunal.  The Tribunal is made up of a legal chair, a medical member and a lay member.  This ensures that at all stages of detention enquiry is made leading to an impartial check on the decisions being made and the treatment being provided or proposed.

Our solicitors have an in-depth knowledge of this legislation having worked in this area since the inception of the Act.  We have solicitors who have provided training on the legislation to both mental health professionals and consultants over the years.  We represent individuals in a legal capacity when they wish to challenge a decision taken in relation to them either to apply for a Short Term Detention Certificate or a Compulsory Treatment Order.  We provide advice and guidance on the procedures as well as appearing on behalf of individuals at Tribunal proceedings.  We can assist in ensuring that individuals are aware of their rights to have orders reviewed at certain intervals and we can also provide this advice and guidance to family members who may wish to have their views noted and challenge any legal order being imposed on a family member.  We can provide guidance to individuals on the possible alternatives to hospital based treatment (e.g community based orders) available in certain circumstances.

This is a specialist area of law which has completely changed over the last decade.  There is now a system in place which allows for solicitors to assist individuals who previously may have felt that they had nowhere to turn when facing possible detention for a mental health related issue.  Our firm will continue to play an active role in assisting individuals who wish to be more pro-active in determining what is best for them in relation to their mental health care and treatment.


Website Design, development & hosting by mtc.