The Future of the Mental Health Tribunal
Consultation is underway regarding the pending transfer of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (MHTS) to the Scottish Tribunals, and the operation of the new Mental Health Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.
The plan is for the functions and members of the MHTS to transfer into the Scottish Tribunals on 12 November 2018. The MHTS as it currently stands would then be abolished. Legal aid would still be available in the First-tier Tribunal Mental Health Chamber and the Upper Tribunal.
What does the consultation cover?
The aim of the consultation is to gather views on the following:
- the transfer of functions and members of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland to the Scottish Tribunals;
- the rules of procedure for the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Mental Health Chamber;
- the rules of procedure for the Upper Tribunal for Scotland when hearing cases from the First-tier Tribunal Mental Health Chamber;
- the composition of the First-tier and Upper Tribunals for Scotland;
- the eligibility for membership of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Mental Health Chamber; and
- time limits for seeking permission to appeal a decision of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Mental Health Chamber.
You can access the full consultation paper here. The deadline for responses is 20 May 2018.
What does this mean?
If the proposed changes go ahead, this would affect:
- Who can make representations at Tribunals—it has been proposed that the concept of a ‘relevant person’ be removed. Instead, any person with an interest in a case would be able to send the Tribunal a request to make oral or written submissions and/or produce evidence.
- The appeals process—it has been proposed that if a party wishes to appeal a decision of the MHTS after 12 November 2018, this would go to the Upper Tribunal instead of the Sheriff Principal.
Although the Mental Health Tribunal may become part of the wider Tribunal system in Scotland, it is likely they will always stand somewhat alone given the specialised nature.
Nicole V. Guidi