I.F. v The Mental Health Tribunal

CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMR. JUSTICE MICHAEL PEART,Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan
Judgment Date18 April 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] IECA 101
Docket NumberNeutral Citation Number: [2018] IECA 101
Date18 April 2018

[2018] IECA 101


Peart J.

Hogan J.

Peart J.

Hogan J.

Gilligan J.

Neutral Citation Number: [2018] IECA 101

Record Number: 2017/3

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- AND -

Admission order – Renewal order – Mental Health Act 2001 s. 19 – Applicant seeking a declaration that the Circuit Court erred in failing to make an adjudication on the merits of the appeal – Whether the initial admission order had been overtaken by a subsequent renewal order

Facts: The applicant came to the attention of the Garda following an allegation that she had threatened her neighbours with a butcher’s knife. An admission order was made by a consultant psychiatrist on the 7th October 2015, pursuant to the provisions of s. 14 of the Mental Health Act 2001. On the 27th October 2015 that admission order was affirmed by the first respondent, the Mental Health Tribunal, pursuant to s. 18(1)(a) of the 2001 Act. The applicant appealed to the Circuit Court against that decision pursuant to s. 19 of the 2001 Act. When the matter came before the President of the Circuit Court on the 10th November 2015 the issue arose as to whether the s. 19 appeal was spent on the basis that the initial admission order had been overtaken by a subsequent renewal order. Groarke P ruled that the appeal was moot. The applicant then commenced judicial review proceedings in which she sought, inter alia, a declaration that the Circuit Court had erred in failing to make an adjudication on the merits of the appeal. That application was dismissed by the High Court (Barrett J) on the 8th November 2016. The applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal against that decision.

Held by Hogan J that: 1) as a matter of stare decisis both Groarke P and Barrett J were correct to follow and apply the applicable law and understanding of the scope of s. 19 of the 2001 Act as reflected in the judgment of Charleton J in Han v President of the Circuit Court [2008] IEHC 160, namely, that the right of appeal applied only where the person in question “is” suffering from a mental illness; 2) in Han Charelton J was, with respect, incorrect in applying a purely literal interpretation of s. 19(1) of the 2001 Act, because this interpretation effectively rendered s. 28(5) unworkable; 3) s. 19(1) of the 2001 Act must therefore be read as if it read “is or was” suffering from a mental disorder; 4) the Circuit Court has a jurisdiction to hear an appeal against the affirmation of an admission order by a Tribunal under s. 18(1), even if that admission order has been subsequently replaced by a renewal order; 5) the Circuit Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine the original appeal under s. 19(1), even if the underlying admission or renewal order (as the case may be) has been replaced in the interval by a renewal order.

Hogan J held that he would allow the appeal from the decision of the High Court and would hear counsel prior to the finalisation of the Court’s order. Peart J also handed down a judgment in the matter.

Appeal allowed.


I have had the opportunity of reading in advance the judgment which is about to be delivered by Mr Justice Hogan, and I am in complete agreement with it. However, I would wish to add some remarks of my own in relation to one matter.


As Mr Justice Hogan has stated at para. 8 of his judgment, the issue that arose before the President of the Circuit Court at the hearing of the appellant's appeal against the Admission Order dated the 7th October 2015 pursuant to s. 19 of the Mental Health Act, 2001 (‘the 2001 Act’) was whether that appeal could proceed in circumstances where that admission order had been replaced by the subsequent renewal order made on the 27th October 2015.


In addition to the reasons given by Mr Justice Hogan with which I am in agreement, there is another reason why in my view the appellant was entitled to have her appeal against the making of the admission order determined notwithstanding the existence by the hearing date of a renewal order.


In my view on a correct reading of s. 15, subs. (1) and (2) of the 2001 Act the renewal order, despite being so described in the Act, merely extends the life of the admission order. It does not replace it. Those subsections provide:

‘15(1) An admission order shall authorise the reception, detention and treatment of the patient concerned and shall remain in force for a period of 21 days from the date of the making of the order and subject to subsection (2) and section 18(4), shall then expire.

(2) The period referred to in subsection (1) may be extended by order (to be known as and in this Act referred to as ‘a renewal order’) made by the consultant psychiatrist responsible for the care and treatment of the patient concerned for a further period not exceeding 3 months.’


The plain meaning of these provisions is that an admission order expires after 21 days unless it has been extended by a renewal order. Put alternatively, where a renewal order is made within that period of 21 days, the admission order does not expire, and continues to be the lawful basis for the patient's detention. It has simply had its life extended by the renewal order.


It is clear that there is nothing within the renewal order itself that authorises the patient's detention as an involuntary patient. The consultant psychiatrist responsible is simply certifying that a lawful basis for extending the admission still exists, and it extends the admission order in such circumstances.


Section 19 of the 2001 Act provides that the patient may appeal to the Circuit Court against ‘a decision of a tribunal to affirm an order made in respect of him or her …’. That ‘order’ may be an admission order or a renewal of that admission order. In the present case the applicant lodged an appeal against the decision of the tribunal to affirm the admission order. In my view, given what I have concluded above as to the meaning of s. 15(1) and (2) of the 2001 Act, the admission order, by the date the matter came before the President of the Circuit Court, had had its life extended by the renewal order made between the date of the tribunal's decision and the date of the appeal hearing. Therefore it had not been replaced by the renewal order. It continued to be the basis of the patient's detention, and I can see no reason by reference to these provisions why the applicant was not entitled to have her appeal determined, and/or why the Circuit Court no longer had jurisdiction to hear her appeal.


If it turned out that the appeal was allowed, on the basis perhaps that on the appeal date the Court was satisfied on the evidence that the condition of the appellant had improved to the point that there was no longer a basis for detaining her, then it would follow that the renewal order would have no relevance, because it has simply extended the life of an admission order that has been revoked. The renewal order has no free-standing existence or legitimacy.


I should add some remarks about earlier judgments that have referred to a renewal order as purporting to renew the detention of, or be the basis for the lawful detention, of the patient. See for example O'Neill J. at para. 17 in W.Q. v. Mental Health Tribunal [2007] 3 I.R. 755 where he stated:

‘The renewal order of the 2nd January, 2001, which purported to renew the detention of the applicant pursuant to s. 15(2) of the Act of 2001, was made by Dr O'Leary’.

Further on at para. 22 of W.Q. O'Neill J. stated:

‘Whether that be so or not [i.e. the failure to have convened a mental health tribunal was necessary on the particular facts of W.Q.] it is clear that the detention of the applicant based upon the purported renewal order of the 2nd January, 2007, was unlawful.’


I can usefully refer also to the judgment of Kearns J. (as he then was) in the Supreme Court in E.H. v. Clinical Director of St. Vincent's Hospital [2009] 3 I.R. 774 where at para. 11 when summarising the facts of that case he stated:

‘On the 10th December, 2008, the renewal order under which the applicant was being detained in St. Vincent's Hospital was revoked …’.


In neither W.Q. nor E.H. was the court considering the question of whether a renewal order had some free-standing status or whether it was simply extending the life of the detaining order, i.e. the admission order. The references to the renewal order being the basis for the detention or purporting to renew the detention is entirely incidental to the issues being determined in those cases, and appears to arise from the fact that for whatever reason the Oireachtas, perhaps unfortunately and indeed in some ways misleadingly, chose to describe an order which merely extends the life of an admission order as being ‘a renewal order’. The use of the word ‘renewal’ suggests that what went before has come to an end. But, as I have pointed out, s. 15 (1) of the 2001 Act in effect provides that it comes to an end ONLY in the event that it is not extended by a renewal order. The renewal order might just as easily have been described as an ‘extension order’, whereby the meaning would not have tended to mislead. However, the use of the phrase ‘renewal order’ is mere nomenclature. The meaning of the section is clear. The renewal order made under s. 15(2) extends the life of the admission order made under s. 15(1). That is all it does. It does not replace or of itself authorise the detention of the patient. The basis for detention remains the admission order, albeit extended.


In my view this alone provides a basis for allowing the applicant's appeal. Having said that, I am also in agreement with the careful analysis of the relevant provisions carried out...

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3 cases
  • A.B. v The Clinical Director of St. Loman's Hospital
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 3 May 2018
    ...The first two cases, PL v. Clinical Director of St. Patrick's University Hospital [2018] IECA 29 and IF v. Mental Health Tribunal [2018] IECA 101, raised very important questions concerning respectively the status of voluntary patients and the scope of an appeal from a Mental Health Tribu......
  • X.X. v The Minister for Justice & Equality
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 4 May 2018
    ...of the same legislation. A very recent example of this is provided by this Court's own decision in IF v. Mental Health Tribunal [2018] IECA 101 where the literal construction of one section of the Mental Health Act 2001 meant that another section of the same Act was rendered effectively 55......
  • F v Mental Health Tribunal
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 29 May 2019
    ...IEHC 623) and the applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal (Peart, Hogan and Gilligan JJ.) allowed the appeal (see [2018] IECA 101, [2018] 2 I.L.R.M. 225) and held that s. 19(1) had to be interpreted as if it read “is or was suffering from a mental disorder”, as otherw......
1 books & journal articles
  • Case Note: AB v The Clinical Director of St Loman's Hospital
    • Ireland
    • Trinity College Law Review Nbr. XXII-2019, January 2019
    • 1 January 2019
    ...(HC). 18 Murray ‘Reinforcing Paternalism’ (n 12). 19 [2018] IECA 29. 20 Ibid [59] (Hogan J). 21 ibid. 22 See IF v Mental Health Tribunal [2018] IECA 101. 23 See, generally, AB (n 2), IF (n 22) and PL (n 19). 24 Liam O’Driscoll, ‘Voluntary Patients under the Mental Health Act 2001: Inadequat......

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