Salaried Tribunal judges to chair restricted hearings

The Secretary of State has agreed to the proposal of salaried Mental Health Judges with suitable experience being selected to chair Restricted Patients Panel cases. Written Ministerial Statements were tabled yesterday (see below).

It was decided not to do an initial trial run first because the salaried judges will only be selected to take on the work if the President considers them capable, but the President will monitor the ticketed judges and arrange any additional training that he may deem necessary.

Judicial Appointments

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): I am today announcing my agreement that salaried mental health judges with suitable experience can be selected to chair Restricted Patients Panel cases in the mental health jurisdiction.

These cases involve patients who are detained in hospital by virtue of a restriction order imposed by the Crown Court or by virtue of being transferred from prison by direction of the Secretary of State. The convention, since the implementation of the Mental Health Act 1983, has been that the tribunal judge chairing the panel will always be a circuit judge, a retired circuit judge or a recorder QC. However, the convention came about at a time when there were no full-time judges in the mental health review tribunal and was designed to provide assurance when this power was first transferred from the Secretary of State to the tribunal that an experienced member of the judiciary would be involved in decisions on whether to direct the discharge of a patient.

There are now full-time salaried judges within the jurisdiction with the necessary experience. Circuit judges and recorder QCs will continue to deal with the majority of cases but authorising some of the salaried mental health judges will increase the pool of available chairs to hear the cases.

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