On appeal from: [2014] EWCA Civ 553

The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the appellant’s appeal, in a case which considered the lawfulness of the decision of the Secretary of State for Justice to recall the appellant, after he had been conditionally discharged from hospital following detention as a result of his being made a subject of a “hospital order” under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Lord Wilson have the leading judgment, with which Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed and Lord Toulson agree. Lord Reed gave a short concurring judgment.

The court considered the Department of Health policy guidelines on the recall of patients to hospital. It found that the explanation provided to the appellant at the time of the recall (i.e. that it was because of his deteriorating mental health) satisfied the first stage of the policy. This also complied with the Minister’s duty to give reasons under the common law.

The Minister had conceded that there had been breaches of the policy with regard to an adequate explanation being provided within 3 days. However, this breach did not render his recall unlawful, and did not mean that his detention between Day 3 until he did receive a full explanation after 15 days was unlawful.

The appellant was not entitled to damages for the breach of his common law right to receive an adequate explanation for his recall within the time specified in the policy. It was not a tort to breach this policy. Similarly, the court found that the breach was not sufficient to violate ECHR, art 5(2).

For judgment, please download: [2016] UKSC 46
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court website (26 April 2016 morning session), (26 April 2016 afternoon session)