Han v President of the Circuit Court

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Charleton
Judgment Date30 May 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] IEHC 160
Date30 May 2008
Docket Number[2007 No.1708 JR]
Han v President of the Circuit Court

BETWEEN

D. HAN.
APPLICANT

AND

THE PRESIDENT OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
RESPONDENT

AND

DOCTOR MALCOLM GARLAND AND DOCTOR RICHARD BLENNERHASSETT AND DOCTOR CONOR FARREN AND PROFESSOR PATRICK McKEON AND THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION AND THE MENTAL HEALTH TRIBUNAL
NOTICE PARTIES

[2008] IEHC 160

No. 1708 J.R./2007

THE HIGH COURT

MENTAL HEALTH

Detention

Appeal - Involuntary patient - Mental health tribunal - Appeal to Circuit Court - Patient discharged - Whether Circuit Court had jurisdiction to hear appeal - Whether appeal to Circuit Court moot - Sussex Peerage Case (1844) 11 Cl & Fin 85, Grey v Pearson (1857) 6 HLC 61, Condon v Minister for Labour [1981] IR 62, Southern Pacific Terminal Company v Interstate Commerce Commission (1911) 219 US 498 and Roe v Wade (1973) 410 US 113 considered - Mental Health Act 2001 (No 25), ss 3, 4, 19 and 28 - Application dismissed (2007/1708JR - Charleton J - 30/5/2008) [2008] IEHC 160

Han v President of the Circuit Court

Facts: The applicant was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act 2001. His detention was reviewed by a Mental Health Tribunal and affirmed. The applicant appealed that order to the Circuit Court. However, prior to processing his appeal, the applicant became well and was released from hospital. The applicant challenged the decision of the President of the Circuit Court holding that the appeal was moot and striking out the appeal on that basis.

Held by Mr. Justice Charleton in holding against the applicant: That the express wording of s.19 of the Mental Health Act 2001, stated that the issue before the Circuit Court was whether the patient 'is not suffering from a mental disorder'. The issue was phrased in the present tense. The Circuit Court on a literal sense of the wording of s. 19 of the 2001 Act had no function in deciding on anything to do with the historical basis for detention but was concerned only with the issue of whether the patient was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the appeal. Consequently, the decision of the President of the Circuit Court refusing to hear the applicant's appeal on the basis that there was no statutory jurisdiction to do so, by reason of the recovery of the applicant and his release from detention under the Act of 2001 was correct.

Reporter: L.O'S.

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S15

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S3

R (M) v BYRNE & FLYNN UNREP O'NEILL 2.3.2007 2007 IEHC 73

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S4

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S48

CLARKE, RE 1950 IR 235

MENTAL TREATMENT ACT 1945 S165

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S33

O'D (T) v KENNEDY & HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE UNREP CHARLETON 5.4.2007 2007 IEHC 129

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S16(2)(f)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19(14)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S17

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19(16)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19(1)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19(4)(a)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S19(4)(b)

BELL CROSS: STATUTORY INTERPRETATION 3ED 1995 1 - 20

SUSSEX PEERAGE 1844 11 CL & FIN 85

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S18

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S9

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S10

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S12

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S14

INTERPRETATION ACT 2005 S5(1)

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S73

MENTAL HEALTH ACT 2001 S28

GREY & ORS v PEARSON & ORS 1857 6 HLC 61

CONDON v MIN FOR LABOUR 1981 IR 62

SOUTHERN PACIFIC TERMINAL COMPANY v INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION 1911 219 US 498

ROE v WADE 1973 140 US 113

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Charleton delivered on the 30th day of May, 2008

2

1. In the relatively recent past, the applicant was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act 2001. The detention was reviewed by a Mental Health Tribunal and affirmed as correct. The applicant then appealed to the Circuit Court. Before he could process that appeal, he became well and was discharged from the mental hospital. Deery J., the President of the Circuit Court, struck the matter out from the hearing list as, the applicant then being well, he considered the matter to be moot. The applicant now challenges this decision.

Chronology
3

2. I now set out the relevant dates, all of which occurred in 2007. On the 7 th June, the applicant's brother requested his involuntary admission to a mental hospital. A recommendation was made by a consultant psychiatrist in a particular hospital that he should be detained. This operated to confine him to the hospital for a period of seven days. On the 9 th June an involuntary admission order was signed by a consultant psychiatrist in the hospital, on the basis that the applicant was suffering from a hypomanic disorder. He was detained for 21 days. On the 20 th June, 2007, there was an independent medical examination. Eight days later, the Mental Health Tribunal met to review the applicant's detention and decided that the applicant was suffering from a schizo-affective disorder. An appeal against this determination was then lodged by the applicant to the Circuit Court. On the same day the first renewal order of the applicant's detention was made and this lasts for three months under s. 15 of the Mental Health Act 2001. On the 5 th July, there was a further clinical assessment of the applicant, by reason of the renewal order, and paranoid schizophrenia was diagnosed, although some improvement was noted. The next day the appeal papers were lodged in the Circuit Court in respect of the first appeal. On 13 th July, there was an independent medical examination of the applicant which indicated no improvement in his condition and further noted that there was a risk of non-compliance with what I understand was a regime of medication. On the 18 th July, 2007 the Mental Health Tribunal met and affirmed the renewal order dated 28 th June. On this occasion a doctor gave evidence that there was some improvement. On the 26 th July the first appeal appeared before the President of the Circuit Court and the matter was put back for hearing until the 25 th October. On the 30 th July, 2007 the renewal order for three months from the 30 th June was appealed to the Circuit Court. On 14 th August, 2007, the applicant was transferred to St. Patrick's Hospital. Then, on the 22 nd August, the first renewal order was revoked as the applicant expressed the wish to stay on as a voluntary patient. However, on the 3 rd September, a new involuntary twenty-one days admission order was made. This was a completely new order and was made on the basis that the applicant wished to leave against medical advice. On the 19 th September, 2007 the Mental Health Tribunal affirmed this second involuntary admission order. Two days later a renewal order was made which took effect on the expiry of the admission order and was to last for three months. On the 26 th September the third set of appeal papers were lodged in the Circuit Court and this was in respect of the new twenty-one day admission order of the 3 rd September, 2007. Then, on the 8 th October, the second renewal order was revoked, meaning the one of 21 st September, 2007. This happened because on examination by a consultant psychiatrist, the applicant was regarded as well. He left the mental health treatment system, certainly in terms of an being an in-patient.

Procedures
4

3. When a person suffers from a mental disorder as defined in s. 3 of the Mental Health Act 2001, he or she may be the subject of involuntary detention in an appropriate institution, which I will call a hospital for the sake of conciseness. Section 3 is the core definition section in the Act and it reads:-

5

2 "3 (1) In this Act "mental disorder" means mental illness, severe dementia or significant intellectual disability where-

6

(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

7

i (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

8

(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.

9

(2) In subsection (1)

10

"mental illness" means a state of mind of a person which affects the person's thinking, perceiving, emotion or judgment and which seriously impairs the mental function of the person to the extent that he or she requires care or medical treatment in his or her own interest or in the interest of other persons;

11

"severe dementia" means a deterioration of the brain of a person which significantly impairs the intellectual function of the person thereby affecting thought, comprehension and memory and which includes severe psychiatric or behavioural symptoms such as physical aggression;

12

"significant intellectual disability" means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning and abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the person".

13

4.Ó Néill J. analysed this section in M.R. v. Bryne [2007] I.E.H.C. 73. He held that the critical factor which must be given dominant weight in terms of the definition section was the propensity or tendency of the person concerned to do harm to themselves or others. He held that the standard contained in the definition requiring a "serious likelihood" of such harm required a standard of proof of a high level of probability which is beyond the normal...

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