A PI award for future care does not alter the statutory right to local authority after-care under s.117 of the Mental Health Act 1983

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20 November, 2017

Tinsley v Manchester City Council & South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group (Interested Party) & Local Government Association (Intervener) (2017)[2017] EWCA Civ 1704

The question before the Court of Appeal was whether a person who was compulsorily detained in hospital for a mental disorder under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 ("the 1983 Act") and then released from detention but still in need of "after-care services" was entitled to require his local authority to provide such services before he had exhausted sums received in damages as a part of a personal injury settlement.

Mr Tinsley was involved in an RTA in 1998 which left him with an organic personality disorder. He was compulsorily detained in hospital under s.3 of 1983 Act. During this time he brought proceedings against the driver involved in the accident who admitted 90% liability for the accident. The Claimant was awarded total damages of £3,500,000, of which £2,890,257 represented damages for future care.

In 2009 his current deputy was appointed after concerns that his previous deputy had mismanaged his financial affairs. The current deputy contended that the claimant was unable to sustain the cost of funding his existing care arrangements and, since 2010, sought to require Manchester CC to provide social care as an after-care service under s.117.

Manchester CC maintained that it had no reason to believe that the Claimant could not continue to pay for his own care using the damages which he received for future care in the personal injury claim, and therefore did not consider itself to be under any duty to provide after-care services under s.117.

The Claimant's position was that Manchester CC had always been obliged to provide him with appropriate after-care services. He sought an order that it do so in the future and that it pay him "damages" for failure to provide such services.

The Court of Appeal considered the issues and dismissed the appeal. Lord Justice Longmore found that a refusal to pay for after-care services was effectively the same as providing such services but charging for them. Furthermore, if an application was made to a local authority for after-care services in general, the local authority could not take into account the fact that a claimant had been awarded personal injury damages which were being administered by the Court of Protection.

The Court of Appeal also considered the issue of double recovery and found while a stated intention to use local authority after-care services in a personal injury trial would prevent recovery of damages for future care, it did not follow that the receipt of damages to pay for care needs would preclude a future application for after-care services under section 117.

Forbes comment

This judgment confirms that local authorities are not entitled to charge for providing after-care services under section 117 Mental Health Act 1983 or take into account personal wealth when assessing eligibility.

For more information contact John Myles in our Insurance department via email or phone on 01254 222432. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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