Regina v Bournewood Community and Mental Health NHS Trust, Ex parte L: CA 2 Dec 1997

The applicant was severely autistic, and unable to consent to medical treatment. He had been admitted voluntarly to a mental hospital and detained under common law powers. The Hospital trust appealed a finding that his detention had been unlawful.
Held: He had in fact been detained: ‘We do not consider that the judge was correct to conclude that L was ‘free to leave’. We think that it is plain that, had he attempted to leave the hospital, those in charge of him would not have permitted him to do so.’ and ‘In our judgment a person is detained in law if those who have control over the premises in which he is have the intention that he shall not be permitted to leave those premises and have the ability to prevent him from leaving. We have concluded that this was and is the position of L.’ The 1983 Act created a complete regime which excluded the application of the common law doctrine of necessity. The judgment was sustained.


Lord Woolf MR, Phillips and Chadwick LJJ


[1998] 2 WLR 764


Mental Health Act 1983 131(1)


England and Wales


CitedBlack v Forsey HL 20-May-1988
The common law was called in aid to supplement the statutory power of compulsory detention to fill a lacuna which had appeared in the 1984 Act.
Held: The common law could not be invoked for that purpose, because the powers of detention . .
At AdmnL v Bournewood Community and Mental Health NHS Trust Admn 9-Oct-1997
L was adult autistic. He had been admitted to mental hospital for fear of his self-harming behaviours, and detained informally. He complained that that detention was unlawful.
Held: The continued detention of a mental health patient who is . .

Cited by:

At CAIn Re L (By His Next Friend GE); Regina v Bournewood Community and Mental Health NHS Trust, Ex Parte L HL 25-Jun-1998
The applicant was an adult autistic, unable to consent to medical treatment. Treatment was provided at a day centre. He had been detained informally under the Act and against the wishes of his carers, but the Court of Appeal decided he should have . .
At Court of AppealHL v United Kingdom ECHR 2004
Lack of Patient Safeguards was Infringement
The claimant had been detained at a mental hospital as in ‘informal patient’. He was an autistic adult. He had been recommended for release by the Mental Health Review Tribunal, and it was decided that he should be released. He was detained further . .
CitedSavage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MIND intervening) HL 10-Dec-2008
The deceased had committed suicide on escaping from a mental hospital. The Trust appealed against a refusal to strike out the claim that that they had been negligent in having inadequate security.
Held: The Trust’s appeal failed. The fact that . .
At CAHL v United Kingdom ECHR 10-Sep-2002
(Admissibility) Whether a detention amounts to a deprivation of liberty depends upon all the facts and circumstances of the particular case . .
At CAL v United Kingdom ECHR 5-Oct-2004
The claimant had suffered mental illness and threatened to hurt himself. He was taken into hospital as a voluntary patient, but in effect detained compulsorily. He lacked capacity to consent to medical treatment.
Held: The holding of a patient . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.218828