Warren v Mental Health Review Tribunal London North & East Region [2002] EWHC 811 (Admin)

Mental health – discharge –tribunal

W was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was later transferred to a psychiatric hospital, under s47 MHA 1983 and subject to a restriction direction under s49. When his sentence expired, he applied to the MHRT for an absolute discharge. The Tribunal refused his application having heard medical evidence that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and that it was not appropriate to discharge him, stating in its reasoning that W’s health appeared to preclude a return to prison.

W argued that the reasons given for the decision lacked the required degree of specificity; and that the Tribunal had misunderstood his legal and factual position, treating him as a patient subject to a restriction order who could either be transferred to prison or perhaps conditionally discharged, which was not the case since his sentence had expired.

Rejecting W’s application, the court ruled that the detail required in reasons had to reflect the context and nature of the evidence, including whether the Tribunal had been faced with conflicting evidence. MHRT decisions could be brief, particularly since they were addressed to an informed audience. In this case, although the reasons given were brief, they were adequate enough to inform the claimant why the Tribunal had arrived at its decision.

Further, whilst it was clear that the Tribunal had made an error regarding W’s status, that error was not material to the decision not to discharge W, since in view of the medical evidence, there was no question of treating him in the community. It was therefore not appropriate to interfere in the decision of the Tribunal.

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