LOCAL SOCIAL services authorities were not entitled to charge persons in their areas who had been discharged from compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 for after-care services provided under section 117 of the Act.
The House of Lords dismissed the appeals of various local authorities against a decision in judicial review proceedings that charges they had made for the provision of after-care services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 were unlawful.
The three cases before their Lordships all involved mentally ill persons who had been formally admitted to hospital under section 3 of the 1983 Act. They had been discharged and placed in caring residential accommodation pursuant to section 117 of the Act. Section 117 provided:
(2) It shall be the duty of the Health Authority and of the local social services authority to provide . . . after-care services for any person to whom this section applies . . . (2A) It shall be the duty of the Health Authority to secure that at all times while a patient is subject to after- care under supervision - (a) a person who is a registered medical practitioner . . . is in charge of the medical treatment provided for the patient as part of the after- care services provided for him under this section . . .
The local social services authorities involved charged the claimants for the provision of after-care services. The claimants challenged the lawfulness of the authorities' decisions to make those charges in judicial review proceedings. The judge ruled that there was no right to charge for after-care services, and that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal. The authorities appealed against that decision.
The central question on the appeals was whether section 117 authorised and required the provision of after-care services or whether it merely …