P v Mental Health Review Tribunal for The East Midlands & North East Region (judgment 16 April 2002)

Mental health – tribunal – discharge

A man with a manslaughter conviction, with a psychopathic disorder challenged the refusal of the Mental Health Review Tribunal to discharge him under s72 of the Act. The MHRT concluded that he still suffered from a disorder, and although he had shown improvement through treatment, that it was not satisfied he no longer required treatment. (This was the formulation of the section before it had to be amended to get rid of the reverse burden of proof on the patient for Human Rights Act reasons).

The patient submitted that he had not acted violently towards anyone for many years, and that, properly construed, s1(2) of the Act stipulated that in order to be suffering from a ‘psychopathic disorder’, there had to be evidence of current commission by the patient of either abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct.

It was held that the assessment the MHRT was obliged to make required the members to consider susceptibility to such conduct, not only whether it has happened, or is happening. The Tribunal was entitled to conclude that tendencies leading to the manslaughter in 1992 and the order for detention still existed at the time of the hearing. A finding of tendencies liable or capable of resulting in aggressive behaviour was sufficient justification for the refusal to discharge.

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