M v Clinical Director of the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Limerick

JudgeMr Justice Max Barrett
Judgment Date18 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IEHC 25
Docket NumberRecord No. 2015 50SS
CourtHigh Court
Date18 January 2016

[2016] IEHC 25


Barrett J.

Record No. 2015 50SS



Constitution – Art. 40.4.2 of the Constitution – Unlawful detention – The Mental Health Act, 2001 – Defect in admission order – Validity of renewal order – Domino effect – Whether the defect in previous admission order would invalidate the current renewal order

Facts: The applicant by way of an application under Art. 40.4.2 of the Constitution had challenged his detention in the mental health hospital owing to an inadvertent error in the prior admission order, which rendered the said order invalid. The applicant asserted that since the present renewal order was the renewal of the previous defunct admission order, his detention became unlawful.

Mr. Justice Max Barrett refused to grant the desired relief to the applicant. The Court held that the term “renewal order” would mean the renewal of the detention order and not the renewal of the previous order as it was the period of detention under s. 15 (2) of the Mental Health Act, 2001 that was sought to be renewed and not the original admission order. The Court observed that the renewal order could be tainted by a defect in an admission order, which was termed as domino effect. The Court held that in order for an argument in relation to the domino effect to succeed, there must be fundamental denial of justice or irreparable damage, which had not been alleged in the present case, and thus, the detention of the applicant was perfectly lawful.

JUDGMENT of Mr Justice Max Barrett delivered on 18th January, 2016

Mr M appears to be very seriously unwell. He is presently being involuntarily detained at a mental health hospital pursuant to a renewal order issued under s.15 of the Mental Health Act, 2001 and dated 4th January, 2016. He was initially detained pursuant to an admission order made under s.14 of the Act of 2001, and executed on 16th December, 2015. That initial admission order was inadvertently dated 16th December ‘2016’ by the admitting consultant psychiatrist. This last-mentioned error, it is alleged for the applicant, rendered the initial admission order invalid. Whether it did or not is no longer relevant. This is because, as of 4th January last, the initial admission order relating to Mr M has been supplanted by a new, separate and extant renewal order. The significance of the issuance of this new, separate and extant renewal order is pointed to by O'Neill J. in his judgment in W.Q. v. The Mental Health Commission and Others [2007] 3 I.R. 755, a case in which it was contended that a renewal order which issued under the Act of 2001 was deficient because of a previous want of compliance with the Act as regards the detention of the applicant in that case. Per O'Neill J., at 769:

‘The scheme of detention provided for in the Act of 2001 is based upon the creation of short periods of detention each disconnected from the other, so that on every renewal the detention has to be fully justified. This is achieved by the admission order in the first instance followed then by renewal orders under section 15….A finding of invalidity of a renewal order which in itself is valid in all respects, because of a defect in a previous renewal order or admission order is a wholly undesirable eventuality and, in all probability, not in the best interests of persons suffering from a mental disorder.’


It might perhaps be contended that as a matter of strict logic, a “renewal” order cannot follow a void “admission” order. This contention, however, would appear to assume that the shorthand term “renewal order”, as employed in the Act of 2001, means to refer to the renewal of a previous order, as opposed to a renewal of detention. In fact, a consideration of s.15(2) of the Act suggests that the latter interpretation is correct, i.e. that it is the period of detention that falls to...

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2 cases
  • Ms F v Mental Health Tribunal
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 8 November 2016
    ...of St Vincent's Hospital [2009] 3 I.R. 774, and M. v. Clinical Director of the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Limerick [2016] IEHC 25). In W.Q., O'Neill J. offered a notably patient-focused rationale for this approach, stating at 770: 'There is, in the best interests of a pe......
  • A.B. v The Clinical Director of St. Loman's Hospital
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    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 3 May 2018
    ...This was also the view expressed by Barrett J. in M. v Clinical Director of the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Limerick [2016] IEHC 25 where he pointed to the attenuated power of review articulated in FX and in Ryan, although as the respondents stressed, there was no discuss......
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