R.T. v Director of the Central Mental Hospital

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date16 February 1995
Date16 February 1995
Docket Number[1994 No. 1403 SS]
CourtHigh Court
R.T. v. Director of the Central Mental Hospital
In the matter of an enquiry pursuant to Article 40, s. 4 of the Constitution
R.T.
Applicant
and
The Director of the Central Mental Hospital
Respondent
[1994 No. 1403 SS]

High Court

Constitution - Personal rights - Liberty - Habeas Corpus - Enquiry involving examination of grounds of detention - Person of unsound mind - Temporary chargeable patient - Whether detention legal - Whether statutory provision constitutional - Mental Treatment Act, 1945 (No. 19), s. 207 - Mental Treatment Act, 1961 (No. 7) - Health Act, 1970 (No. 1) - Health (Mental Services) Act, 1981 (No. 17) - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 40, s. 4.

Article 40, s. 4 of the Constitution provides inter alia as follows:—

"1. No citizen shall be deprived of his personal liberty save in accordance with law.

2. Upon complaint being made by or on behalf of any person to the High Court or any judge thereof that such person is being unlawfully detained, the High Court and any and every judge thereof to whom such complaint is made shall forthwith enquire into the said complaint and may order the person in whose custody such person is detained to produce the body of such person before the High Court on a named day and to certify in writing the grounds of his detention, and the High Court shall, upon the body of such person being produced before that court and after giving the person in whose custody he is detained an opportunity of justifying the detention, order the release of such person from such detention unless satisfied that he is being detained in accordance with the law.

3. Where the body of a person alleged to be unlawfully detained is produced before the High Court in pursuance of an order in that behalf made under this section and that court is satisfied that such person is being detained in accordance with a law but that law is invalid having regard to the provisions of the Constitution, the High Court shall refer the question of the validity of such law to the Supreme Court by way of case stated and may, at the time of such reference or at any time thereafter, allow the said person to be at liberty on such bail and subject to such conditions as the High Court shall fix until the Supreme Court has determined the question so referred to it."

Section 207 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945 (as amended by s. 25 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1961) provides inter alia:—

"(1) Where -

  • (a) a person detained in a district mental hospital or other institution maintained by a mental hospital authority is charged with an indictable offence before a justice of the District Court sitting in such district mental hospital or other institution, and

  • (b) evidence is given which, in the opinion of the justice, constitutes prima facie evidence:—

    • (i) that such person has committed the offence, and

    • (ii) that he would, if placed on trial, be unfit to plead, the justice shall by order certify that such person is suitable for transfer to the Central Mental Hospital and shall cause copies of such order to be sent to the Minister and to the person in charge of such district mental hospital or other institution.

(2) Where an order is made under subsection (1) of this section in relation to a person detained in a district mental hospital or other institution -

  • (a) such person shall be retained in such district mental hospital or other institution and his detention therein shall be continued subject to any order which may be made under this subsection,

  • (b) the Minister shall require the Inspector of Mental Hospitals to visit such person and to make a report on his mental condition to the Minister,

  • (c) after consideration of the report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals, the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, by order direct and authorise the transfer of such person to the Central Mental Hospital,

  • (d) on being transferred thereto such person may, notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, be detained therein until he is sent to a district mental hospital or other institution or discharged under this section or his death."

The applicant was admitted to St. Brendan's Hospital, Dublin, as a temporary chargeable patient under s. 184 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, by order made on the 16th August, 1977. By two endorsements on the reception order the period of detention was extended to the 15th August, 1978, and then to the 15th February, 1979. While in St. Brendan's Hospital the applicant was charged with a criminal offence of causing actual bodily harm to a patient on or about the 13th April, 1978, contrary to s. 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861.

At a sitting of the District Court on the 4th July, 1978, a judge of the District Court certified pursuant to s. 207, sub-s. 1 (b) of the Act of 1945 that the evidence against the applicant constituted prima facie evidence that he had committed the offence alleged and that if placed on trial the applicant would be unfit to plead. The judge of the District Court certified that the applicant was suitable for transfer to the Central Mental Hospital. Having considered a report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals the Minister for Health made an order on the 3rd August, 1978, under s. 207 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, directing the transfer of the applicant from St. Brendan's Hospital to the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, where the applicant was detained until the hearing of the action.

The applicant brought proceedings claiming that his detention was unlawful and in the alternative that s. 207 of the Act of 1945, was unconstitutional.

Held by Costello J., in stating a case to the Supreme Court to determine whether s. 207 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, was invalid having regard to the provisions of Article 40, s. 4, sub-s. 1 of the Constitution, 1, that the applicant's detention in the Central Mental Hospital was lawful.

2. That s. 207, s. 2 (d) of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, gave authority for the applicant's detention in the Central Mental Hospital notwithstanding the expiration of an earlier temporary chargeable patient's order.

3. That an otherwise lawful imprisonment is not rendered unlawful by reason only of the conditions of detention.

Middleweek v. Chief Constable of Merseyside [1992] 1 A.C. 179 and R. v. Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison[1992] 1 A.C. 58 distinguished.

4. That legislative restrictions on the citizen's liberty must be in accordance with the fundamental norms of the legal order postulated by the Constitution.

King v. Attorney General [1981] I.R. 233 followed.

5. That the State's duty to protect the citizen's rights becomes more exacting in the case of weak and vulnerable citizens such as those suffering from mental disorder and the Oireachtas should ensure that legislation depriving such persons of their liberty should contain adequate safeguards against abuse and error in the interests of those whose welfare the legislation is designed to support.

6. That there were serious defects in the statutory procedures of s. 207 which directly impinged on the constitutional rights to liberty of temporary patients which rendered the section unconstitutional.

Cases mentioned in this report:—

Croke v. Smith [1994] 3 I.R. 525.

King v. Attorney General [1981] I.R. 233.

Middleweek v. Chief Constable of Merseyside [1992] 1 A.C. 179; [1990] 3 W.L.R. 481; [1990] 3 All E.R. 662.

R. v. Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison [1992] 1 A.C. 58; [1991] 3 W.L.R. 340; [1991] 3 All E.R. 733.

The State (Rogers) v. Galvin [1983] I.R. 249; [1983] I.L.R.M. 149.

Enquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution.

The facts have been summarised in the headnote and are fully set out in the judgment of Costello J., infra.

On the 23rd November, 1994, on the application of the applicant for an enquiry into his detention pursuant to Article 40, s. 4 of the Constitution, the High Court (Barron J.) made an order requiring the respondent to certify in writing the grounds of the applicant's detention. The Attorney General was given notice of the proceedings on the 7th December, 1994, in accordance with O. 60, r. 1 of the Rules of the Superior Courts.

The enquiry was heard by the High Court (Costello J.) on the 13th and 17th January, 1995.

Cur. adv. vult.

Costello P.

Introduction

The applicant had been a patient in St. Brendan's Hospital, Dublin, but was transferred to the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, by order of the Minister for Health of the 3rd August, 1978. This order was made pursuant to the provisions of s. 207, sub-s. 2 (c) of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, the section which is impugned in these proceedings. Since that date, that is for the past sixteen years, the applicant has been detained in the Central Mental Hospital. These proceedings were instituted under Article 40, s. 4, sub-s. 1 of the Constitution. The applicant claims that his detention is unlawful and seeks an order for his release. It is claimed firstly, that he is not being legally detained and, in the alternative, if his detention is legal, then the section purporting to justify it is unconstitutional. By order of the 23rd November, 1994, the Director of the Central Mental Hospital was directed to certify in writing the grounds of his detention. This has been done and the Attorney General has been given notice of the proceedings and has argued the validity of the impugned section.

I propose in this judgment to use the term "person of unsound mind"to refer to persons suffering from mental illness, mental handicap, or personality disorder who may be...

To continue reading

Request your trial
19 cases
  • Application of Gallagher
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 6 Septiembre 1996
    ...constitutional rights must be of particular concern to the various organs of State. R.T. v. Director of the Central Mental Hospital [1995] 2 I.R. 65 applied. (iii) The purpose of the detention and whether that purpose had been adequately fulfilled so that the necessity which justified it no......
  • A.B. v The Clinical Director of St. Loman's Hospital
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 3 Mayo 2018
    ...This, after all, was the point which was made by Costello J. in his judgment in R.T. v. Director of the Central Mental Hospital [1995] 2 I.R. 65, 80-81 when he said: 'There are serious defects not only in the transfer procedures but also in the provision which enables indefinite detention ......
  • Health Service Executive (HSE) v X (M)
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 29 Julio 2011
    ...have regard to international instruments was touched on in the decision of Costello P. in R.T. v. Director of Central Mental Hospital [1995] 2 I.R. 65. That judge expressed himself in this way. "The reasons why the Act of 1945 deprives persons suffering from mental disorder of their libert......
  • M.X. v Health Service Executive
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 23 Noviembre 2012
    ...COURT (WITHHOLDING MEDICAL TREATMENT) (NO 2), IN RE 1996 2 IR 79 CONSTITUTION ART 40.1 T (R) v DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL MENTAL HOSPITAL 1995 2 IR 65 1995 2 ILRM 354 1995/5/1664 HEALY, STATE v DONOGHUE & ORS 1976 IR 325 EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS & FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS ART 6 O'LE......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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