Mental Health Review Tribunal procedure

What is a Mental Health Review Tribunal?

This is an independent judicial body which reviews the need for the continued detention of patients in hospital.

What will happen at a Tribunal?

If you ask the Tribunal to look at your case they will arrange a hearing to see you and your doctor. They will ask you for the full details of your case and you will be able to tell them why you want to leave hospital. They will also hear evidence from the medical reports provided by your doctor and will then make an informed decision as to whether you should be allowed to leave hospital or not.

You may wish to have a solicitor present with you at the Tribunal and help put your views across to the Panel. Because of the legal advice and assistance scheme this solicitor’s help will be free. If you would like us to assist you on this matter please feel free to contact the office.

How can I apply?

If you would like us to help you with your application please contact us and we will arrange an appointment to come and visit you in hospital.

If you wish to apply yourself, please use the downloadable application form which is provided on the Tribunal website. They should also be able to provide this information at the hospital.

What happens once an application has been submitted?

The Tribunal office will acknowledge receipt of your application and ask the hospital for reports from your doctor and social worker.

Nearer the time of your Tribunal you, or your legal representative, will be given copies of the reports to prepare for the hearing.

How long will it take before a hearing takes place?

This will depend partly on the circumstances of the case but usually a hearing will take place between 12 and 20 weeks from the date of your application.

Where will the Tribunal be held?

It will usually take place in the hospital where you are detained.

When will the Tribunal make their decision?

Normally a decision will be given at the end of your hearing. In any event the Tribunal must provide a written decision with reasons within 7 days.

How will the Tribunal make their decision?

They will listen to the arguments of both you and your legal representative and also the doctors present. Their powers are also governed by legislation under the Mental Health Act. Section 72 of the Act sets out that the Tribunal MUST discharge a person if certain criteria are not met.

For a person detained under Section 2 the Tribunal MUST discharge you if: 

  • At the time of the Tribunal, you do not have a mental disorder which warrants detention in hospital for assessment; or
  • Detention is not justified in the interests of your own health and safety, or for the protection of others.

For a person detained under any Sections other than Section 2 the Tribunal must discharge you if:

  • At the time of the Tribunal you do not have a mental disorder which warrants detention in hospital for treatment, or
  • It is not necessary for your health and safety or for the protection of others.
  • In the case of someone who has had a barring certificate issued, that you would not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to yourself or other persons.

For patients who are not subject to a restriction order, the Tribunal can also order a Community Treatment Order.

For patients who are subject to a Restriction Order, the Tribunal must, under Section 73, discharge you if they would generally do so (from the criteria above) provided that it is not appropriate for you to remain liable to be recalled to hospital for further treatment. It will then make an absolute discharge. If, however, they believe a recall will be necessary a conditional discharge will be made.

What is a Conditional Discharge?

Someone who has been subject to a Restriction Order may be discharged from hospital, subject to conditions imposed by the Home Office (under Section 42 of the Mental Health Act). The conditions that may be imposed are not defined by the Act but typically include:

  • Supervision by a social supervisor (normally a social worker or probation officer) who will provide support to assist with resettlement in the community. They will also alert the Home Office if the need arises to recall you back to the hospital;
  • Supervision by a supervising psychiatrist who will provide medical reports to the Home Office and oversee medical treatment in the community. Compulsory treatment cannot be given to conditionally discharged patients; and
  • A requirement to live at a specified address.

Can I appeal against a Tribunal decision?

The decision can be challenged by an appeal to the High Court. Legal advice should always be sought before making an appeal. At Hunt & Coombs Solicitors we are able to provide help for High Court appeals and you are welcome to contact us about the appeal procedure at any time. Legal Aid may also be available for the appeal.

If you have any further questions or require advice please contact us on 01733 882800 or by using the link below.


Richard Boucher