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