The tribunal is held in private and usually takes place in a private area of the approved centre where the patient is detained.
The tribunal is not like a formal courtroom. There is no formal dress code and patients can wear their day-to-day clothes. In general, everyone sits together around a table.
What happens during the tribunal?
At the start of the tribunal the Chair will introduce the tribunal members to the patient and explains what will take place at the tribunal. The Chair will inform the patient that they can speak to the members of the tribunal and can discuss any aspect of their admission to the approved centre with them. Before the tribunal, the members of the tribunal will have read all the relevant documents about the patient’s case. The tribunal must see;
- The patient’s admission/renewal forms.
- The report from the independent consultant psychiatrist.
- Any forms given to the patient which the approved centre gave to the patient regarding their stay.
- The patient’s hospital file.
The patient and/or their legal representative can make oral or written submissions to the tribunal.
The tribunal will proceed to hear evidence, including that of the patient’s treating consultant.
The tribunal may direct the provision of other documents or evidence or compel any individual to attend.
How does the tribunal make a decision?
The three members of the tribunal will carefully consider everything they have heard together with all documentation provided to them and any relevant case law. They will decide on the following:
- Does the patient continue to have a mental disorder as of the date of the tribunal as per the test in the 2001 Act?
- Has there been compliance with all of the legislative requirements as per the 2001 Act?
- Any legal submissions that may have been made.
They will usually adjourn to consider the matters, agree their decision (or make a majority decision) on the various matters. They will write up their decision, which must include the reasons for their decision.
In most cases the decision is delivered the same day as the tribunal. On occasion a tribunal adjourns to clarify some matter or obtain additional evidence.