Minutes: 06/06/2017


1. Welcome & introductions: Sue Antell, Caroline Auty, Sarah Burke, Michael Kennedy, Nick Lewis, Shefik Osman, Kate Tyrrell, Jonathan Wilson.

2. Apologies: Rob Beech, Catrin Blake, Richard Charlton, Neil Cronin, Tam Gill, David McLaughlin, Shoni Newell, Jennifer Nwachukwu, Floyd Porter, Pramod Sanatun, Karen Wolton.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 12 April 2017: proposed as an accurate record by MK subject to amended wording of Item 6(d)(ii): “encouraging the client to apply to the tribunal when discharge was not something they wanted to achieve.” There would be further discussion of the definition of ‘actively seeking membership’ under this meeting’s Agenda Item 4.

4. Matters arising not covered on agenda:
Definition of ‘actively seeking membership’: one view was that a prospective member should have undertaken the mandatory Panel course and submitted their application to The Law Society. For the avoidance of doubt, it was agreed that the Drafting sub-committee would consider a comprehensive definition and the Constitution would be amended in due course. The sub-committee would also look at eligibility for discounted Panel course fees and the definition of Firm membership.

5. Officers’ reports:
a. Chair / Vice Chair (Michael Kennedy)

(i) We had received a response from Mind’s legal officer about the request on delayed discharges reported in the 12 April Minutes, Item 10(i). They are seeking anonymised case examples and want us to pass on the request. It was agreed to email members with the relevant Mind contact details.
(ii) Response to DCP Hinchliffe: a letter had been drafted by RC. As this was a sensitive matter and not many committee members were in attendance, it was agreed to circulate the draft to the full committee with a deadline for comments of 30 June.

b. Treasurer (Sarah Burke)
(i) Budget figures had been circulated and the Association remained in good financial health.
(ii) VAT: following more discussion around the pros and cons of ring-fencing, the Treasurer agreed to seek further clarification from the accountants.

c. President (Nick Lewis):
(i) Stakeholder meeting 25 April: A 1% increase in cases referred to the Tribunal was reported during the last year. NL had raised the problem of Tribunals being cancelled at the last minute because panel members were not available. Ideally more panel members should be appointed, although there are budgetary issues. They will not now express views as to whether or not a patient should be discharged, although they will sometimes express a view if in conflict with the clinical physician. One matter NL raised was that our members may, with agreement from the responsible clinician, suggest an agreed date subject to availability of the panel. The MoJ had indicated that they were embarking on training for their staff and running training days for practitioners to attend.
(ii) NL had attended a professional engagement group and, although there was little relating to MH work, they were running a pilot scheme for courts to sit until 8pm. Whilst there may be an argument for this in other jurisdictions, in NL’s view neither MH patients nor practitioners would accept it.

d. Secretary
There were no issues not already covered.

6. Sub-Committee reports
a. Conferences (Kate Tyrrell)

(i) CoP conference
Arrangements were going smoothly. Registration was open, and there were 33 delegates to date including speakers. Mr Justice Munby was still ‘agreed in principle’ as the headline speaker. CA would continue the marketing push.
(ii) MHLA conference and AGM
Confirmed speakers:
Steve Matthews, Masked AMHP
Dr Caroline Bradley, Consultant Psychiatrist (+ Kay Raleigh, Consultant Clinical Forensic Psychologist?)
Sophy Miles & Michael Kennedy, Case Law Update
Judge Birrell, TS (NL will ask Hinchliffe who should formally approach him)
Floyd Porter, Chief Assessor of TLS MCA Panel

Other speakers:
LAA speakers (to be identified nearer the time – TG will liaise)
Professor Luke Clements, Leeds University (MK to contact)

b. Court of Protection (Floyd Porter)
(i) Law Commission DoL safeguards review: progress has been halted due to the general election and realistically there may not be any changes until 2021.
(ii) MC Accreditation: training courses are running, there has been good feedback, and the first ALRs may be appointed by October.

c. Legal Aid (Karen Wolton)
The LAA had issued new, clear guidance on contract management on 3 April. It was agreed to write to members encouraging them to read the guidance and follow it to the letter in order to avoid contract notices.

d. Education and Training (Shefik Osman)
The 2017 programme of courses was running well. TG had raised time constraints for updating course materials and other trainers were covering these. The new Supervision course had run successfully and would be repeated. Remaining courses pencilled in for October would be confirmed as soon as possible.

e. MHT
Nothing to report.

7. Regional meetings
MK had organised a regional meeting in York on 24 May. Topics had included the new Civil Contract, the new contract guidance, the tribunal and a CoP update. Attendees had aired concerns about TLS’s accreditation scheme including re-accreditation delays and difficulties in complying with CPD requirements.

8. AOB
(i) JW raised the question of the Data Protection Act. As well as complying, the MHLA should register with the Information Commissioners Office.
(ii) SB raised concerns about a number of recent audit issues, including nil assessed and contract notice, in contrast to the guidance. SB had appealed and was awaiting news. SB will send case details to KW with a view to these matters being raised with John Sirodcar.
(iii) Associate members: we had changed the Constitution in 2016 and created the new category of Associate member who should not have access to the members-only area of the website, but currently did. JW asked whether we should change this. Discussion was deferred until the next meeting.
(iv) Reserves: JW asked about interest on the MHLA’s bank account. The current account was not interest-bearing, nor were there any charges. The Treasurer said that it was not worth considering other options as the Association wanted easy access to funds and the amount of interest would be negligible.
(v) Re-accreditation: the proposed requirement is now six tribunals and six CPD hours a year. SB asked that we publicise this new requirement when it is introduced.

9. Future meetings:
Tuesday 1 August
Tuesday 26 September
Wednesday 1 November
Annual conference & AGM Friday 17 November

Minutes: 12/04/2017


Agenda items 1-3 chaired by David McLaughlin and Item 4 onwards by Tam Gill.

1. Welcome & introductions: Sue Antell, Caroline Auty, Rob Beech, Richard Charlton, Neil Cronin, Tam Gill, Michael Kennedy, Nick Lewis, David McLaughlin, Jennifer Nwachukwu, Floyd Porter, Jonathan Wilson, Karen Wolton.

2. Apologies: Catrin Blake, Sarah Burke, Shoni Newell, Shefik Osman, Pramod Sanatun, Kate Tyrrell.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2016: The December minutes had not been agreed in February because of a disagreement over Minute 5(b). A transcript was supplied. Following discussion, it was agreed to add the first paragraph of JW’s suggested amendment (The committee decided that a person would be considered to be “actively seeking membership” of the mental health accreditation scheme, and therefore eligible for full membership of the Association under the constitution, as soon as that person had booked onto a two-day panel course) but not the second. The minutes were duly approved. No further letter would be sent to the applicant whose Firm membership had been declined.

4. Minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2017: proposed as an accurate record by DM and seconded by MK. CA would put both sets of minutes on the website shortly.

5. Matters arising not covered on agenda: none

6. Officers’ reports:
a. Chairman & Vice Chair (Tam Gill & Michael Kennedy)

(i) LAA contract update: it was noted that the single-stage is expected to open in May 2017, to ensure compliance with Public Contract Regulations 2015 (nb: different timescale from headline intentions document).
(ii) LAA Contract query: a query received from a member regarding client allocation in the new LAA contract was discussed. However, the committee did not agree that MHLA should raise this issue with the LAA.
(iii) TLS Panels update
 Welfare panel pre-accreditation course bookings are now open.
 MH Panel ‘professional development hours’ for initial accreditation applications: given that other Law Society panels have more stringent requirements than MH, the committee decided not to raise this issue with TLS on behalf of the membership.
(iv) SRA meeting: this was attended by MK, KW & TG on 27 March. SRA representatives made presentations explaining what they do, and there had been discussion about regulatory problems in the sector, which John Sirodcar had joined in by conference call. The dialogue would be continued, especially regarding complaints, appeals and investigations, and another meeting was planned for the Autumn.
(v) Future meeting Oliver Heald: CA would send a reminder to members who had not yet responded to the recent questionnaire seeking their views.
(vi) DCP Hinchliffe response on judicial guidance: following discussion, it was agreed to write to Judge Hinchliffe to say that as a committee we are concerned that there appear to be summaries produced which do not reflect case law. RC would draft a response.

b. Treasurer (Sarah Burke)
(i) SB was not present. The budget figures had been circulated in advance.
(ii) VAT:
 It was noted that those speakers who are VAT-registered may now claim VAT on top of their speaker fee.
 The accountant had confirmed that in order to remain exempt from VAT, any profits derived from education and training should be reinvested in E&T activities. Following discussion around the issues of VAT registration and ring-fencing, it was agreed to seek further clarification from Steven Nixon. MK and CA would liaise on this.
c. President (Nick Lewis)
(i) MHDC update:
 NL had been involved with setting up the MC accreditation scheme and wished to record thanks to FP, who has carried the responsibility for the scheme, and also to Sheila Carrick, Sophy Miles and Rachel Turner. The scheme is likely to go live in August and courses are running in London and Manchester.
 Vulnerable adults bill: members of the committee undertaking work involving vulnerable adults were asked to make case studies available to Alex Ruck Keene.
 The Law Society is seeking to recruit MHDC committee members and anyone interested should contact them.
(ii) Law Society contract: NL had met Ellie Cronin and a member of the MoJ to promote our views on the new contract. Originally a two-stage process, this was now a one-stage process.

d. Secretary (David McLaughlin)
(i) No response had been received from the firm whose membership application was declined in December.
(ii) An issue had been drawn to DM’s attention whereby a firm of solicitors seemed to be ‘encouraging’ or making a claim on behalf of a Tribunal. DM and TG would liaise.

7. Sub-Committee reports
a. Conferences

(i) CoP conference
FP was happy with Mr Justice Munby as the headline speaker and it would not be necessary to find another judge to speak. Marketing would commence shortly.

(ii) MHLA conference and AGM
Speaker update: Duncan Birrell will deputise for Judge Hinchliffe, who cannot attend. NL’s daughter Sian, a forensic psychologist who works in the prison service, is willing to speak, together with a colleague who works in the public and private sectors. Lucy Series has suggested an academic in the Leeds area. MK would present the Case Law update with Sophy Miles.

b. Court of Protection (Floyd Porter)
The sub-committee’s report had been circulated and there was nothing further to add.

c. Legal Aid (Karen Wolton)
(i) KW had attended an LAA meeting with John Sirodcar and Jake Kraft. On the subject of audits and new guidance, KW had suggested that auditors are not particularly well-trained. The zero tolerance policy for errors at audit has been confirmed and even a single error will result in contract notices. Another two on the same issue will lead to contract issues (termination). It was agreed to draft a note to members warning them to disregard the guidance at their peril. Action: MK.
(ii) An issue raised by Peter Edwards was being looked into by the LAA’s policy group.

d. Education and Training (Shefik Osman)
The sub-committee’s report had been circulated and there was nothing further to add.

e. MHT
Nothing to report.

8. Regional meetings
MK is organising a Yorkshire & North East regional meeting on 24 May.

9. Future meetings
Tuesday 6 June
Tuesday 1 August
Tuesday 26 September
Wednesday 1 November
Annual conference & AGM Friday 17 November

10. AOB:
(i) Correspondence had been received asking members to submit examples of discharge. [They] had been asked to be more specific about what they were seeking, but had not yet responded.
(ii) NC raised the issue of whether section 5.2 of the Constitution (the power to refuse membership with no reason given) was appropriate. This could be considered at a future date.