What is the Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland?
The Tribunal is an independent judicial body which reviews:
(a) the cases of patients who are detained or are subject to guardianship under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 (the Order)
(b) authorisations of deprivation of liberty and applications relating to the appointment or removal of nominated persons under the Mental Capacity (Northern Ireland) Act 2016 (the Act)
Who is on the Tribunal?
The Tribunal is made up of a number of legally qualified members, medically qualified members and experienced members. At hearing, the Tribunal may be composed of two or three members, one of whom must be a legally qualified member.
What does it do?
If you are compulsory detained or subject to guardianship under the Order or deprived of your liberty under the Act you have the right to appeal to the Tribunal.
Applications and Referrals under the Order
The Tribunal has a statutory role to consider applications/referrals made for the discharge of patients under Part V of the Order. This includes applications made on behalf of the patient by their nearest relative. Additionally, if a patient's detention/guardianship has not been considered by the Tribunal by the end of a period specified in the Order, the Secretary of State or the responsible Trust are obliged to refer the case for consideration, thus ensuring that all cases are subject to regular review.
The Tribunal may direct that a patient is discharged or that they remain subject to detention. It has different powers and procedures in respect of restricted patients (i.e. those who have been accused or convicted for criminal offences and on whom the Crown Court has imposed restrictions on discharge). In those cases the Tribunal may direct an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge or may defer a direction for a conditional discharge.
Applications and Referrals under the Act
The Tribunal also has responsibility to consider applications and referrals relating to authorisations of deprivation of liberty and to the appointment or removal of nominated persons under Parts 2 and 3 of the Act. The Tribunal has the discretion to conduct hearings under the Act either orally or on the papers, where the panel reach their decision on the evidence alone.
In accordance with Chapter 7 of Part 2 of the Act, in relation to an authorisation under Schedules 1 and 2, the Tribunal must revoke the authorisation; or take no action in respect of the authorisation.
The Act also provides the Tribunal with a range of powers and procedures in respect of the appointment or removal of nominated persons. The Tribunal’s Deprivation of Liberty guide for applicants and their nominated person provides additional explanatory information on the process
Right of Application or Referral
If you are compulsory detained or subject to guardianship under the Order, or deprived of your liberty under the Act, you have the right to appeal to the Tribunal. When the Tribunal has considered your case it may choose to end your detention or deprivation of liberty or it may decide to take no further action. If you are unable to apply to the Tribunal you can ask your legal representative or nominated person to apply to the Tribunal on your behalf.
The Attorney General, the Department of Health (DoH) or the Master of Care and Protection (on the direction of the court) may at any time refer to the Review Tribunal the case of (a) any patient who is liable to be detained or subject to guardianship under the Order; or (b) any person subject to a deprivation of liberty authorisation under the Act.
Unless the person to whom the application relates requests otherwise hearings are held in private.
How can I apply to the Review Tribunal?
You or your nominated person or legal representative can apply directly to the Tribunal by completing the relevant application Form and sending it to the address below. Please make sure you provide all the information that has been asked for.
Special rules apply in respect of a nearest relative (NR) application to the Tribunal for a review of a patient’s case under the Order. They must (a) be the NR of the patient concerned and (b) have followed the correct procedure prior to making the application.
The procedure that must be followed is set out in Article 71(4) of the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986. The NR must first write to the Trust ordering the discharge of the patient. The Trust must then write back to the NR barring the discharge. On receipt of that letter, the NR then has 28 days to apply to the Tribunal for a review of the case. The NR must send a copy of the Trust’s letter barring discharge along with their application to prove the procedure has been followed.
The NR can, once the correct process has been followed, apply for a review of a patient’s case once a year beginning with the date of detention or guardianship of the patient.
When can I apply?
If you are detained or are subject to guardianship under the Order you may apply to the Tribunal within the period of six months beginning with the date of admission (or reception into guardianship). You may apply to the Tribunal again each time the authority for detention / guardianship is renewed. The first renewal is done just before the end of the six-month period mentioned above. Subsequent renewals are done annually.
In other words you can apply during the first six months, during the second six months and each year thereafter.
If you are subject to a deprivation of liberty under the Act you may apply to the Tribunal within the period of six months beginning with the date the authorisation is granted. You may also apply to the Tribunal again each time the authority for the deprivation of liberty is renewed. In the event of an interim deprivation of liberty authorisation or authorisation of short-term detention in hospital for treatment, the period for making application is 28 days beginning with the date of the granting of the authorisation or date of admission.
How long before my case is heard?
Cases will normally be listed for determination on the papers/oral hearing within six weeks of receipt of the application/referral. However, the timeframe can be shortened for urgent hearings.
What happens after I make an application?
The Tribunal office will write to you or your legal representative to acknowledge receipt of your application. It will then contact the Trust responsible for your care to ask for reports and documents including medical and other relevant reports. In the case of a restricted patient the Criminal Law Branch of the Department of Justice will also be contacted.
When arrangements for the hearing have been made the Tribunal will write to you and your legal representative or nominated person to notify you of the date, time and venue for the hearing. Where a medical examination is required the Tribunal will also notify you when and where the Tribunal medical member will meet with you prior to the hearing.
Approximately 2-3 weeks before the hearing date you or your representative will be provided with all relevant documentation so that you can prepare your case.
How can I be represented at hearing?
Most applicants choose to be legally represented, however, you may wish to present the case yourself or you may choose to be represented by a person other than a lawyer, e.g. a patient advocate. The Trust is usually legally represented.
You may not be represented by another patient, i.e. a person liable to be detained or subject to guardianship under the Order or a person receiving treatment for mental disorder at the same hospital as yourself.
You may personally contact a solicitor or other representative or you may ask your nominated person to help you.
Where will the hearing take place?
Hearings on applications or referrals made under the Order are normally held on the hospital site. The Tribunals Hearing Centre will normally be the venue for determinations on the papers or oral hearings of applications and referrals made under the Act with the provision to use alternative venues where appropriate.
What happens at an oral hearing?
The Tribunal President will make every effort to ensure that the hearing is conducted as informally as possible. At the beginning he/she will introduce everyone present to you and will explain the procedure to be adopted.
The Tribunal panel will have already read the written reports submitted as evidence. It will hear the evidence of the witnesses present and it will take into account anything that you or your representative has to say. All the parties will be given an opportunity to ask questions.
What if I change my mind about having a Tribunal hearing?
You should write to the secretary of the Tribunal stating the reasons for your change of mind. The President of the Tribunal will consider these reasons, also taking account of the circumstances of your case, and will decide whether or not to accept your request to withdraw the hearing. A change of mind will not prejudice your right to make further applications to the Tribunal. Referrals made by the Attorney General, the DoH or the Master of Care and Protection cannot be withdrawn.
When will I know the Tribunal’s decision?
You will normally be notified on the day of the determination on the papers or oral hearing, and a copy of the full decision will be forwarded to you within 14 days.
What happens if my appeal is dismissed?
Judicial decisions of the Tribunal may only be challenged in such circumstances by way of Judicial Review to the High Court. If you wish to pursue a legal challenge you should seek timely legal advice on the matter.
- The Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
- The Mental Health Review Tribunal (Northern Ireland) Rules 1986
- The Mental Health Review Tribunal Amendment Rules (NI 2016)
- The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016
- The Review Tribunal (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2019
Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 - Deprivation of Liberty
- Review Tribunal Form 1 - Application to appeal a Deprivation of Liberty by P
- Review Tribunal Form 2 – Application to appeal a Deprivation of Liberty by Nominated Person
- Review Tribunal Form 3 - Application for Appointment of Nominated Person
- Review Tribunal Form 4 - Application for Revocation of Appointment of Nominated Person where P regains capacity
Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
- Review Tribunal Form 5 – Application by Detained Patient
- Review Tribunal Form 6 - Application by Restricted Patient
- Review Tribunal Form 7 – Application by Patient under Guardianship
- Review Tribunal Form 8 - Application by Nearest Relative
Contact usThe Secretary
The Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland
Royal Courts of Justice
Tel: 0300 200 7812