Ireland: Mental Health Case Law Update

Last Updated: 13 May 2015
Article by Orla Keane

Transfer and Detention Under Inherent Jurisdiction of High Court

HSE v VF [2014] IEHC 628
The High Court made an order under its inherent jurisdiction for the transfer of a 45-year old woman in need of special therapeutic and welfare services from an approved centre to a nominated care facility in circumstances where a lacuna in the Mental Health Act 2001 meant that no order could be made under the Act to effect such a transfer. Read a detailed article on the judgment here.

Duty of Tribunal to Give Reasons

AX v Mental Health Tribunal & Anor [2014] IEHC 592
The High Court rejected a challenge to a decision of the Mental Health Tribunal affirming an involuntary admission to an approved centre for treatment of a mental health disorder. The judgment contains a detailed discussion of the obligation on the Tribunal to provide reasons for its decision on a review. It also considers whether a defect in a prior admission or renewal order can taint a subsequent renewal order.

Section 10 Examinations

LB v The Clinical Director of Naas General Hospital [2015] IEHC 34
The High Court rejected a challenge to the adequacy of a section 10 examination carried out on the applicant prior to the making of a recommendation for her involuntary admission to an approved centre under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 2001. The judgment considers the requirements of a valid section 10 examination, and in particular whether a medical practitioner can have regard to personal knowledge he/she may have of a patient's case when conducting such an examination.

Enduring Powers of Attorney

AA & Anor v FF [2015] IEHC 142
The High Court considered the general principles governing its jurisdiction to supervise an attorney appointed pursuant to an enduring power of attorney. The Court considered the following issues (i) whether and to what extent an attorney acting under a registered enduring power of attorney is obliged to account to the High Court; (ii) whether and to what extent an attorney acting under a registered enduring power of attorney is obliged to account to other persons in a close family connection with the donor; and (iii) whether the High Court has a general or specific supervisory role in respect of the exercise of the function by an attorney, and how such supervisory role is to operate in practice.


Health Service Executive v JB [2015] IEHC 216
The High Court found that the defendant, JB, a young adult suffering from a personality and conduct disorder, and who was receiving treatment in the UK, lacked capacity to make material decisions in terms of his medical treatment and therapy. The defendant had expressed a wish to return to Ireland. The Court recommended that a committee of doctors be established to oversee his transition to Ireland and to advise on when and how such a transition might be effected. The judgment includes a detailed discussion of the principles which a Court must consider in determining whether an individual has capacity.

Health Service Executive v KW [2015] IEHC 215
The High Court found that the respondent, KW, a young adult suffering from a mental disorder not detainable under the Mental Health Act 2001, and who was receiving treatment in the UK, lacked capacity to make decisions regarding her future care and treatment. The Court noted the respondent's wish to return to Ireland and directed that her transition to Ireland happen within a three month time span, or earlier if the treating medical team agreed. The Court, exercising its inherent jurisdiction, ordered that the respondent be involuntarily detained as a psychiatric patient in an adult psychiatric ward in Ennis General Hospital, under the care of the clinical director. The judgment includes a detailed discussion of the principles which a Court must consider in determining whether an individual has capacity.

Insanity and Fitness to Plead

FX v Clinical Director of the Central Mental Hospital [2015] IEHC 190
The High Court considered whether the legal basis for the detention of the applicant, who was charged with murder and an offence contrary to section 4 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act 1997, in the Central Mental Hospital was an order of the Central Criminal Court, or a subsequent order of the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board. It also considered the lawfulness of the detention. The Court also had to consider whether the order of the Central Criminal Court was spent as a result of the applicant's acquittal on the murder charge. The judgment contains a discussion of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 and the powers and duties of the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board, which was established under that Act. It also endorses the Supreme Court decision in EH.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.

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