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Section 2 - Admission for assessment and treatment

To be detained under Section 2 Mental Health 1983 (as amended) (MHA 1983), you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must be suffering from a mental disorder of a nature and/or degree that warrants your detention in hospital for assessment, or assessment followed by treatment for a limited period.
  2. Your detention under Section 2 is justified in the interests of your own health or safety, or for the protection of others.

An Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) must apply to the hospital if it is considered that you meet the legal criteria and need to be detained under Section 2 MHA 1983. Your Nearest Relative can also apply. An AMHP can only apply if they have seen you in the last 14 days. They also need recommendations from 2 doctors. The doctors must have seen you in the last 14 days and they must not have seen you more than 5 days apart.


If you or your relative are detained under Section 2 MHA 1983, you can be detained for a period of 28 days beginning from the date of your admission to hospital under Section. This is the maximum duration of your detention under Section 2 and before 11.59pm on the 28th day of your Section your doctor must either discharge you from Section 2 or engage in the necessary action to detain you further under Section 3 MHA 1983. The latter can only be an action taken if you meet the criteria for detention under Section 3 MHA 1983. Your Section 2 detention cannot be renewed but it can be extended in circumstances where certain Nearest Relative displacement proceedings are ongoing or if you have gone absent without leave and been returned to hospital before the Section expires.


You should be informed of your rights by a member of hospital staff as soon as possible into your admission.  You have the right to:-

  • Information about your Section and the reasons for detention
  • Information about Consent to Treatment
  • Information about your rights of appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal
  • Information about how to contact a suitably qualified solicitor
  • Information about your right to appeal to the hospital managers
  • Information on how to obtain the help and support of an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)
  • Information about correspondence and visitors
  • Information on how to make a complaint
  • Information about safeguarding
  • Information about the Care Quality Commission

Consent to Treatment

Medication can legally be given to you without your consent during this 28 day period but attempts should be made to obtain your consent as you should be fully involved in your care.

Discharge from Section

You can be discharged by:

  1. Your Responsible Clinician (your doctor in the hospital in which you are detained);
  2. The hospital managers;
  3. Your Nearest Relative; and
  4. The Tribunal.

Hospital Managers Hearings

You have the right to apply to the hospital managers to discharge you from detention. You can do this at any time during the 28 day period.

Tribunal Procedure & Powers

You have one right to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal and, if you wish to appeal against your Section, your application must be submitted in the first 14 days of your detention. For example, if you were detained under Section 2 on 1 January, the last day you could submit an application to the Tribunal would be 14 January.

Once you have submitted your application to the Tribunal, a Tribunal Hearing should take place within 7 days of the Tribunal Services receiving your application. Reports will be prepared by your doctor, your social worker/care coordinator and a nurse and these will be made available to you and the Tribunal Panel.

In the Tribunal Hearing, the Tribunal Panel will hear evidence from your doctor, your social worker/care coordinator and a nurse. You will also have the opportunity to provide evidence.

The Tribunal Panel have the power to discharge you from Section immediately, defer your discharge to a future date, recommend that you are transferred to a different hospital, recommend that you are granted Section 17 leave or uphold your Section.

What can Biscoes Solicitors do?

  • Meet with you promptly in hospital to advise you about your Section and your rights, including your right to appeal to the Tribunal to seek discharge from Section/recommendation for transfer to another hospital or the granting of Section 17 leave
  • Advise you regarding Consent to Treatment issues
  • Review your Section papers and assess their legality
  • Submit an application to the Tribunal on your behalf
  • Contact your Nearest Relative to advise them of their rights and powers
  • Contact your treating team to find out their plans for your admission
  • Represent you in a Hospital Managers Hearing
  • Represent you in a Mental Health Tribunal Hearing

India Jefferson-Grant is the Mental Health Law specialist in our Mental Health and Capacity Department and is a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme having been independently assessed as an expert in Mental Health Law. If you have been detained under Section 2 MHA 1983 and need legal assistance, you can contact India on 02392 660 261 or


For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch