F.C. v Mental Health Tribunal

JudgeMr. Justice Mark Heslin
Judgment Date24 June 2021
Neutral Citation[2021] IEHC 432
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[2021 No. 198 JR.]
Mental Health Tribunal

[2021] IEHC 432

[2021 No. 198 JR.]



Judicial review – Renewal order – Detention – Applicant seeking a declaration that the decision of the respondent affirming a renewal order detaining the applicant as an involuntary patient was made in breach of the respondent’s statutory duty to give reasons for its decision – Whether the respondent’s decision was unlawful, unreasonable, invalid, void and of no effect

Facts: The applicant applied to the High Court seeking relief in the following terms: (i) a declaration by way of an application for judicial review, that the decision of the respondent, the Mental Health Tribunal, dated 12 February 2021, affirming a renewal order dated 25 January 2021, made pursuant to s. 15(3) of the Mental Health Act 2001, detaining the applicant as an involuntary patient in the approved centre, for a period ending on 26 July 2021 in failing to give any, or any adequate or proper reasons therefore was made in breach of the respondent’s statutory duty, pursuant to s. 18(5) of the 2001 Act, to give reasons for its decision and/or in breach of its common law duty to do so, and/or in breach of the applicant’s rights to natural and/or constitutional justice and is, accordingly, unlawful, unreasonable, invalid, void and of no effect; (ii) further, or in the alternative, a declaration, by way of an application for judicial review, that the decision as aforesaid, in failing to engage with the evidence before it, as it relates to the statutory criteria for a person’s, including the applicant’s involuntary detention pursuant to s. 3(1)(b)(i) and (ii) of the 2001 Act, and/or given the recital of the evidence on which it relied is unreasonable and irrational; (iii) certiorari, by way of an application for judicial review, quashing the decision as aforesaid; (iv) damages for breach of statutory duty and/or pursuant to s. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003; (v) further or other relief; and (vi) costs.

Held by Heslin J that the respondent discharged the functions and duties imposed upon it pursuant to the 2001 Act. Heslin J held that it gave adequate reasons for its decision and acted rationally in reaching its decision in accordance with the evidence before it, and not otherwise. Heslin J held that the respondent acted within jurisdiction and in accordance with the principles of constitutional justice. Heslin J held that the applicant had not established an entitlement to any of the relief claimed.

Heslin J held that the application must be dismissed.

Application dismissed.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Mark Heslin delivered on the 24th day of June, 2021


The applicant in this case challenges a decision made by the respondent on 12 February 2021 (“the decision”). The applicant, who was born in 1981, has a long history of mental ill-health and he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He is currently detained in an “approved centre” for the purposes of the Mental Health Act, 2001 (“the 2001 Act”). He was admitted there on 07 April 2019 on foot of an “admission order”, at which stage the applicant was not taking the medication prescribed for him, was extremely paranoid, was hearing voices and, inter alia, threatening to burn his own apartment. No challenge is made in respect of the foregoing admission order, which was made under s. 14 of the 2001 Act, on the basis that the applicant was suffering from a mental disorder as defined in ss. 3(1)(a) and 3(1)(b)(i) and (ii) of the 2001 Act. The applicant has been an involuntary patient since that date. An admission order lasts for 21 days and, by virtue of s. 15 of the 2001 Act, the respondent may extend the period of a patient's involuntary detention for periods not exceeding six months. On 25 January 2021, a “Renewal Order” was made by the applicant's responsible consultant psychiatrist, pursuant to the provisions of s. 15(3)(a) of the 2001 Act. This extended the applicant's detention for a period ending on 26 July 2021, subject to the applicant's right to seek a further review after three months, pursuant to s. 15(3)(b). On 12 February 2021, the respondent reviewed the 25 January 2021 Renewal Order and, by a majority decision, dated 12 February 2021, the respondent affirmed the Renewal Order. This is the decision challenged in the present proceedings. On 15 March 2021, the applicant moved an ex parte application seeking leave to apply for judicial review and the court directed that the respondent, as well as the then notice party, the Mental Health Commission, be put on notice of the application, which was listed for 22 March 2021. It was noted at that stage, as this Court noted during the hearing which took place on 13 May 2021, that the applicant was seeking a recommendation under the Legal Aid (Custody Issues) Scheme. On 22 March 2021, the leave application was adjourned, on consent, and on 12 April 2021, the court was informed that the respondent consented to the granting of leave to apply for judicial review and that the applicant consented to the Mental Health Commission being removed from the proceedings. At the commencement of the hearing on 13 May, this Court made an order formally granting leave to the applicant to seek judicial review, as well as making an order pursuant to s. 27 of the Civil Law ( Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 2008, prohibiting the publication or broadcast of any matter relating to the proceedings which would or which would be likely to identify the respondent as a person suffering from a medical condition.

Relevant Legislation

The role of the respondent is set out in s. 18(1) of the 2001 Act, as follows:-

“18.—(1) Where an admission order or a renewal order has been referred to a tribunal under section 17, the tribunal shall review the detention of the patient concerned and shall either—

  • (a) if satisfied that the patient is suffering from a mental disorder, and

    • (i) that the provisions of sections 9, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16, where applicable, have been complied with, or

    • (ii) if there has been a failure to comply with any such provision, that the failure does not affect the substance of the order and does not cause an injustice,

    affirm the order, or

  • (b) if not so satisfied, revoke the order and direct that the patient be discharged from the approved centre concerned.”


There is no dispute between the parties about the fact that the respondent carried out the “ review” referred to in s. 18(1). Later in this judgment, I will look closely at the evidence which was before the respondent in the context of the review which took place on 12 February last. For present purposes, it is sufficient to note that it comprised the report of the applicant's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Angela Noonan, dated 11 February 2021 (following a review on 10 February 2021); the report of an independent consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Cosgrave, dated 31 January 2021 (following a review on 29 January 2021); the report of Dr. John B Frazer, dated 9 February 2021 (following a review, on 17 November 2020, at the request of the applicant's legal advisors,) and; the applicant's psychiatric records from the approved centre between 25 January 2021 (the date of the making of the Renewal Order) and 11 February 2021 (the day before the review by the respondent).


It is clear from the provisions of s. 18 that the respondent has a very important (but clearly defined and confined) jurisdiction, namely, to decide if the patient in question is suffering from a “ mental disorder” and, if so satisfied, to affirm the Renewal Order and, if not so satisfied, to revoke the order. It is plain that the fundamental question relates to whether the patient is suffering from a “ mental disorder”. Before looking at the meaning of that term, having regard to s. 3 of the 2001 Act, it is appropriate to note that s. 18 requires the respondent to consider if certain procedural matters have been complied with and, if not, whether such non-compliance affects the substance of the relevant order such that it should be revoked. There was no challenge made to the respondent at any stage, nor is there any challenge in the proceedings before this court, which relates to procedural matters. The sole issue with which this Court is concerned relates to the respondent's determination that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and the reasons in respect of same. In essence, the applicant's case is that no, or no sufficient, reasons were given. It is plain from s. 18 that if the respondent is satisfied that the patient is suffering from a mental disorder then, absent any procedural issues (and none arise in the present case) the respondent is required to affirm the admission/Renewal Order.


The term “ mental disorder” is dealt with in s. 3 of the 2001 Act which provides as follows:-

“3.—(1) In this Act “mental disorder” means mental illness, severe dementia or significant intellectual disability where—

(a) because of the illness, disability or dementia, there is a serious likelihood of the person concerned causing immediate and serious harm to himself or herself or to other persons, or

(b)(i) because of the severity of the illness, disability or dementia, the judgment of the person concerned is so impaired that failure to admit the person to an approved centre would be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in his or her condition or would prevent the administration of appropriate treatment that could be given only by such admission, and

(ii) the reception, detention and treatment of the person concerned in an approved centre would be likely to benefit or alleviate the condition of that person to a material extent.

(2) In subsection (1)—

“mental illness” means a state of mind of a person which affects the person's thinking, perceiving, emotion or judgment and which seriously...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT