Section 7 Guardianship

Legal Criteria

Section 7 Guardianship orders are very rare in practice. Such an order gives the guardian (usually the Local Social Services Authority) the power to:

  1. Require the person to reside at a certain place;
  2. Require the person to attend a certain place for medical treatment, occupation, education or training; and/or
  3. Require access to the person by any doctor or other mental health professional.

To be detained under Section 7 Mental Health 1983 (as amended) (MHA 1983), you must be at least 16 years old and meet the following criteria:-

  1. You must be suffering from a mental disorder of a nature and/or degree which warrants your reception into Guardianship.
  2. A Guardianship order is necessary in the interests of your welfare or for the protection of other people.

An Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) must apply if it is considered that you meet the legal criteria and need to be cared for under a Section 7 Guardianship order. Your Nearest Relative can also apply. The AMHP must also have recommendations from 2 doctors that you meet the Section 7 MHA 1983 criteria.

Duration

If you, or your relative, are detained under Section 7 MHA 1983, you can initially be detained for a period of up to 6 months beginning from the date of the initial order. If it is considered that you continue to meet the criteria for a Guardianship order towards the end of the initial 6 month period, your Doctor can renew the order for a further 6 months. If it is considered that you continue to meet the criteria for a Guardianship towards the end of the second 6 month period, your doctor can renew your section for a 1 year period. Your section then can continue to be renewed annually.

Consent to Treatment

If you, or your relative, are detained under this Section you cannot be given medication against your wishes and must consent to treatment. However, if there is a requirement for you or your relative to attend a certain place for medical treatment you can be taken there but you do not have to take the medical treatment. This could, however, result in you being detained under a different Section of MHA 1983 and admitted to hospital.

Discharge from Section

You can be discharged by:

  1. Your Responsible Clinician (your doctor);
  2. Your Nearest Relative; and
  3. The Tribunal.

Tribunal Procedure & Powers

You have one right to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal during the first 6 months of your Guardianship order and once during every period of renewal. For example, if you were placed under a Guardianship order on 3 January, the last day you could submit an application to the Tribunal would be 2 July. If the order was renewed, you would have one right of appeal between 3 July and 2 January and if it was renewed further, you would have one right of appeal between 3 January and 2 January of the following year.

Once you have submitted your application to the Tribunal, a Tribunal Hearing should take place within 6-8 weeks of the Tribunal Services receiving your application. Reports will be prepared by your doctor and your social worker/care coordinator 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 and your social worker/care coordinator. You will also have the opportunity to provide evidence.

The Tribunal Panel has the power to discharge you from the Guardianship order immediately or uphold the Guardianship order.

What can Biscoes Solicitors do?

  • Meet with you promptly in the community/at your accommodation to advise you about your Guardianship order and your rights, including your right to appeal to the Tribunal to seek discharge from the order.
  • 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 care and treatment.
  • Attend Care Programme Approach (CPA) meetings and Section 117 aftercare meetings with you or on your behalf.
  • If you have a Learning Disability, we can request Care and Treatment Reviews (CTRs) and attend them with you or on your behalf.
  • Represent you in a Mental Health Tribunal Hearing.
  • Advise you on your rights to aftercare under Section 117 MHA 1983.

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 placed under a Section 7 MHA 1983 Guardianship order and need legal assistance, you can contact India on 02392 660 261 or IJefferson-Grant@biscoes-law.co.uk.