In re S-C (Mental Patient: Habeas Corpus): CA 22 Nov 1995

The Court of Appeal issued habeas corpus because the applicant was committed to a mental institution pursuant to an application which was made by somebody who lacked the statutory authority to make it. The right of personal freedom is fundamental. In the mental health context, if someone is to be taken out of the community and detained in a hospital there must be clear evidence that the medical condition of a patient justifies such action. A social worker could not make an application for an admission if the nearest relative objected. The correct procedures had not been followed.
Sir Thomas Bingham MR said: ‘As we are all well aware, no adult citizen of the United Kingdom is liable to be confined in any institution against his will, save by authority of law. That is a fundamental constitutional principle, traceable back to chapter 29 of Magna Carta 1297 . . and before that to chapter 39 of Magna Carta 1215.’
and: ‘Powers . . exist to ensure that those who suffer from mental illness may, in appropriate circumstances, be involuntarily admitted to mental hospitals and detained. But, and it is a very important but, the circumstances in which the mentally ill may be detained are very carefully prescribed by statute. . . Thus we find in the statute a panoply of powers combined with detailed safeguards for the protection of the patient. . . One reminds oneself that the liberty of the subject is at stake in a case of this kind, and that liberty may be violated only to the extent permitted by law and not otherwise.’

Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Neill, Hirst LJJ
[1996] QB 599, QBCOF 95/1657/D, [1996] 2 WLR 146, (1996) 29 BMLR 138, [1996] 1 All ER 532, [1996] Fam Law 210, [1995] EWCA Civ 60, [1996] 2 FCR 692, [1996] 1 FLR 548
Mental Health Act 1983, Magna Carta 1297 29, Magna Carta 1215 39
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedA v Secretary of State for the Home Department, and X v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Dec-2004
The applicants had been imprisoned and held without trial, being suspected of international terrorism. No criminal charges were intended to be brought. They were foreigners and free to return home if they wished, but feared for their lives if they . .
CitedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedTTM v London Borough of Hackney and Others CA 14-Jan-2011
The claimant had been found to have been wrongfully detained under section 3. He appealed against rejection of his claim for judicial review and for damages. The court found that his detention was lawful until declared otherwise. He argued that the . .
CitedKambadzi (previously referred to as SK (Zimbabwe)) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-May-2011
False Imprisonment Damages / Immigration Detention
The respondent had held the claimant in custody, but had failed to follow its own procedures. The claimant appealed against the rejection of his claim of false imprisonment. He had overstayed his immigration leave, and after convictions had served a . .
CitedWelsh Ministers v PJ SC 17-Dec-2018
A patient detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) may be released from compulsory detention in hospital subject to a community treatment order. The question arising on this appeal is whether a patient’s responsible clinician (may impose . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health, Constitutional, Torts – Other

Updated: 31 December 2021; Ref: scu.220474