In April there were drastic changes to legal aid. Regulations were introduced which meant that legal aid stopped for a detained person once a court began considering the case. This then meant that people who lacked mental capacity either had to argue their own case, which is usually against a local authority and its legal team, or not argue it at all.

Previously, the UK had complied with the European Convention on Human Rights by making legal aid available, putting them on an equal footing with those detained under the Mental Health Act and with people whose children had been removed by a local authority.

Recently The Ministry of Justice has conceded that its decision to remove legal aid for people challenging their detention under the Mental Health Act was unlawful and should be reversed with immediate effect.

Richard Charlton, who is chair of the Mental Health Lawyers Association, said: ‘While I am delighted that the government has seen sense here, it is of concern that a case such as this was necessary to change policy.’

Any legal matter can be potentially confusing and stressful and that is particularly so in the area of Mental Health. It is therefore more than ever important in this field for patients and their families to have access to professional legal advice of the highest quality given by lawyers who understand the legal complexities involved but also the concerns of patients, detainees and their families.

For more information and advice please contact our mental health team here.


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