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New Bill fails adequately to safeguard delivery of justice to mental health patients

09 May 2013 | tagged News release

The Law Society of Scotland has today raised concerns that new Scottish Parliament legislation fails adequately to safeguard the continued existence of a specialised mental health tribunal for Scotland. The Society is concerned that this could affect the delivery of justice to some of the most vulnerable people in Scottish society.

Adrian D Ward, Convener of the Mental Health and Disability Committee, said: "The Society is supportive of the proposed Scottish tribunals system and the Scottish Government's current commitment to a specialised mental health tribunal.

"The mental health tribunal for Scotland has the power to make or prevent significant interventions in highly vulnerable people's lives. These include the power to detain patients in hospital, to specify where they reside and to give them medical treatment for mental disorder against their will. With such an extensive range of powers over people's lives, the Society considers it necessary for the tribunal to retain its existing highly specialised competence, to ensure the best decisions possible are made for the most vulnerable people in Scottish society.

"We recommend that the Scottish Government's commitment to the tribunal should be reflected in the terms of the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill. The tribunal's place within the proposed chamber structure ought to be enshrined in primary legislation which could only be amended by a further Act of the Scottish Parliament. This would ensure full parliamentary and democratic scrutiny of any change to the tribunal's status."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Tribunals (Scotland) Bill will make provision for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to establish the first-tier tribunal for Scotland and the upper tribunal for Scotland.

The text of the Bill can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament website.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Julia Brown on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884. For the out of hours service please call 0131 226 7411.

Email: juliabrown@lawscot.org.ukor valeriemcewan@lawscot.org.uk

09 May 2013

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