For anyone that has attended a Mental Health Tribunal pre-lockdown the 3 person panel will be very familiar. The judge sitting in the middle is assisted by an independent consultant psychiatrist on one side and a lay member (someone involved in social care) sitting on the other. As for most things, this has changed since lockdown with a judge sitting alone, and of course, appearing over a video link.
The Tribunal has now announced some further changes, reverting to the previous composition of three panel members. It is hoped that this will be implemented for all cases heard on or after 1st June 2020, with s.2 cases commencing earlier.
Pre- hearing practice
Prior to lockdown a patient would have been able to meet with the Tribunal doctor in private prior to the hearing. The Tribunal issued a practice direction on 19 March to say it was not practicable for these to happen and so there haven’t been any since then. It is not yet known where these will recommence when 3 person panels do but given the adaptability, we have all had to show in recent weeks it would be thought they could take place by telephone or video conferencing. Watch this space!
Representation at a Tribunal is covered by legal aid.
Our team are working remotely and can represent you or a family member at a tribunal, contact our Mental Health team on 0191 232 9547.