MHLA Committee Meeting – 19 February 2019
1. Welcome and introductions: Sue Antell, Manhas Aziz, Elizabeth Cleaver, Neil Cronin, Alice Dickinson, Tam Gill, Umar Kankiya, Andrew Markham, David McLaughlin, Jennifer Nwachukwu, Deepti Parmar, Pramod Sanatun, Andrea Spyrou, Kate Tyrrell, Jonathan Wilson, Karen Wolton.
2. Apologies: Sarah Burke, Emma Kent, Nick Lewis, Morag McNiven, Jenny Oxton.
3. Minutes of meeting held on 12 December 2018: Proposed as accurate record by PS and seconded by KW.
4. Officer’s Reports:
a. Chair & Vice Chair (Kate Tyrrell & David McLaughlin)
i. LAA Q&A: The LAA’s written response to conference questions was distributed to members on 21st January.
ii. Meeting LAA / HMCTS: It has been suggested that we should have a meeting with the LAA and HMCTS, with regard to Rule 11(7)(a) Appointments. KT had an email from Jake Kraft at the end of the previous week and is expecting a date to be confirmed for this meeting soon. TG said this has been an issue in the last two Conference Q&As.
iii. Recent Guidance: Two pieces of guidance have been issued recently and sent out to members. These are: the Mental Health Casework Section’s Guidance on discharge conditions amounting to deprivation of liberty and Guidance received from HMCTS about observing tribunal hearings; we no longer need to request this in advance.
iv. MHCS Meeting, 11th March 2019: Meeting agreed for 11th March at their head office. They requested a meeting to make initial contact, as well as discuss improvement plans and ways they can work effectively with legal reps. KT, TG, and DM will be attending and will feed back at next committee meeting.
v. HMCTS Event: Tribunal Reform – 26th February 2019: Event taking place in Exeter. BC will attend on MHLA’s behalf and will give feedback afterwards. Meeting will be focused on modernisation of tribunals, and does not have a specific focus on mental health, but could still be relevant to MHLA.
vi. Hospital Lists: Update on issue raised at previous meeting. Email received from member firm, who are having trouble getting their departments on hospital lists. KT sent response in line with what was agreed at previous meeting to ask what steps they have taken. She has not heard back, but has since had second email from different firm experiencing same problem. KT sent them a reply similar to the one sent to previous firm. The second firm have said that two trusts (North East London NHS Foundation Trust, and Surrey & Borders NHS Foundation Trust) are carrying out their own reviews for listings, without any reference to specific guidance. The second firm are in the process of making complaints, but that they’re trying to do this carefully, and their primary concern is patients having an up to date listing. TG suggested writing to the two trusts, saying that all patients should have a list of TLS approved panel members in their area. Committee agree to write to the hospitals. Action: TG will draft email and send to KT, who will send email to committee for any further changes. Letter will be sent to trusts by the end of the week.
vii. Renewals: Renewals process has changed, will be sent by post rather than email. We will also obtain Law Society Panel List, and contact non-members to see if they are interested in joining. KT says education timetable should be sent with it, advertising courses. Letter for renewals is currently being drafted by administrators.
viii. MHLA Landline: AD had received a voicemail on 7 Feb, called back and discovered person was suicidal and refused to disclose name/location. Administrators have not had formal training for these situations. AD had to call police and found the incident very distressing. As an immediate action, the virtual landline has been temporarily diverted to KT’s work mobile (which does not give her firm name, or divert to her firm). AD was also able to provide a list of calls received since the beginning of the year, with the majority being from members of the public seeking legal advice which the administrators cannot provide. The committee discussed whether the landline was necessary given the low volume of calls received from members as well as Caroline Auty and AD being very quick to respond to emails. They also discussed the option of the number being changed and only provided to MHLA members with strict guidelines not to share it, or to keep the existing number and provide CA and AD with specialist training. After discussion, the committee decided to keep the number, however all calls will go to voicemail without the ability to leave a message. The voicemail will give the MHLA website for members of the public to see a list of members, as well as the email address of the administrators should they have any enquiries. Action: AD will draft a script for the voicemail and send to KT for approval.
b. President (Nick Lewis)
Nick was not in attendance.
i. CCCG Meeting: SA gave feedback in NL’s absence, as they both attended the CCCG Meeting. NL was asking for information on outcomes of tender and SA was having problems with her LA contract. They discussed how CCMS wasn’t working very well, that some people were trying to submit applications on Christmas Day, and were told that going forward it would be different.
ii. Next Meeting: 27 February 2019: SA would like to attend. DM pointed out SPG meeting on Thurs 28 Feb, and said both should be attended by the same person, which SA is happy to do. There is some confusion among the committee about the date of the meeting, and it may have changed or been rearranged. KT will find out and update SA.
c. Secretary (Pramod Sanatun)
i. Administrator Role: PS introduced AD, who will now be sharing the administrator position with CA. She has been assisting CA behind the scenes since 2015. Signed contracts from CA and AD have been received and they will submit future invoices separately. AD will be attending all future committee meetings.
ii. BBC Radio 4 Update: PS, JN and UK agreed to take part in documentary, and proposed a format, but have not heard back from them. BBC will not share edited version of documentary with committee before broadcast, so they have decided to keep it factual as they do not want one person’s view to represent the committee. UK asked if programme was still being made, KW said she heard a similar programme a few weeks ago so they may have already made it? KT said she was told programme would be aired around March however they have not had contact.
d. Treasurer (Sue Antell)
The latest budget figures were circulated. DP asked about the course income, which has gone up and then gone down – this was due to the cancellation of Northern courses and no COP Conference. Membership was briefly discussed at this point but actions are already in place. There were no other questions.
5. Sub-committee Reports
a. LAA: Nothing to report, still awaiting date for next meeting.
b. COP: PS has received the responses to the COP Questionnaire, however plans to recirculate the questions in the hope of more responses. He will share the findings to the committee before the next meeting, and then the possibility of a joint COP conference with COPPA can be discussed. TG suggested possibly offering more specialist courses for those already practicing COP. KT would like the COP sub-committee to circulate the responses to questionnaires before the next committee meeting, and draft a proposal for future courses.
c. E&T: TG said Foundation Course with NC last week went well, and dates/speakers/venues are lined up for the rest of the year, apart from the Panel Course which is being finalised by JW. We await a confirmed date for the planned bespoke course with Chambers (currently only scheduled for ‘summer’).
d. Drafting / Consultation: MM is absent and had nothing to report. DM highlighted the consultation document, Revising the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice: Call for evidence, which closes on 7 March 2019. It was agreed to send the link to members asking them to respond individually rather then collating responses.
e. Conference: AD reported the contract has been signed with the venue, the MacDonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham, for the conference on 22 November. The committee discussed possible speakers. Action: Conference sub-committee will consider possible speakers, and report to the next meeting.
6. Any Other Business:
a. PS had received a personal email from a MHLA member, who was having problems with the LAA regarding escape fee cases and payment for the same. The member wanted to know if the MHLA could help him. PS couldn’t promise that person advice, but asked for more details to pass on to the committee.
b. SA asked if anyone had any queries they’d like her to raise at the SPG Meeting. JW asked why mental health wasn’t discussed very much at these meetings. NC asked if LAA want to be informed when judges have negative feedback on solicitors or tribunal representatives, and there was some discussion on whether this was a relevant question for the SPG Meeting and if this could negatively affect our relationship with the LAA if we pursue it. NC said he was asked this by a judge. TG suggested raising issues with John Sirodcar and/or Judge Postgate, or Judge Johnston. KT suggested raising this at the forthcoming LAA meeting.
c. KT said it had been brought to her attention that an administrator at a private hospital had not made any referrals to the Tribunal for patients for over two years, because the RC had not been available. The referrals are now being made, but KT asked where we should raise the issue. SA suggested the Trust. TG suggested making an anonymous call to the CQC and whistle blowing.
7. Dates of next meetings
Tuesday 9 April
Tuesday 4 June
Wednesday 31 July
Tuesday 10 September
Wednesday 30 October
Annual conference & AGM Friday 22 November