Landmark decision for CJCH Solicitors, resulting in first Mental Health Review Tribunal case in Wales to be held via video conferencing, after 14 months of coronavirus pandemic.

We are delighted to announce that a successful application was made concerning mental health patients’ rights to have their cases heard via video conferencing in Wales as opposed to via telephone.

The application was made by Amy Roberts-Rees, Partner in charge of the Mental Health Department at CJCH Solicitors, along with her colleague Craig Mills, who represent clients in these matters.

Since March 2020 the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales, which is the legal court applicable to those who are detained under the Mental Health Act to challenge their detention, did not enable cases to be heard face to face via Video Means, in contrast to England, and has held all cases over the last 14 months to date via telephone means only.

The Practice Direction concerning detained patients in Wales however outlined that cases could be heard via telephone or alternatively ‘via video conferencing where possible. Nevertheless, for 14 months since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, all hearings in Wales were heard via the telephone only and the video platform had never taken effect.

The lawyers challenged this process and initially were refused their application in the first instance on behalf of a client requesting that their case be heard via video conferencing. However, the continued to challenge through a second application, resulting in the Deputy President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales granting the application to enable the client to have their case heard through such means. This would enable the client to fully participate in the process concerning their case, having accessed alternative hearings previously via Microsoft Teams and Zoom which they felt far better in being able to present their case.

It is a very difficult position for anyone suffering from mental health difficulties to present their case to a court when they are unable to see those who are considering their matter. Through the invaluable working relationships with Emma Sutton, Barrister at Sergeants Inn, the lawyers successfully challenged the decision and the tribunal has now granted CJCH’s client to be the ‘first case in Wales’ to have their hearing held via video means. The tribunal’s president has confirmed that following this decision a series of trial hearings will be selected going forward in Wales to have cases heard face to face with alternative video platforms.

During such difficult times through the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, the Mental Health Department at CJCH Solicitors has set a remarkable precedent for patient’s rights in Wales to access the court and have their hearings held via video means, this is a huge benchmark going forward.

Well done team