Detained patient wins right to claim damages

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The Independent Online

A mental health patient unlawfully detained in a psychiatric hospital won the right to claim damages yesterday under human rights laws.

The Court of Appeal ruled that a local authority was liable to pay compensation to the patient, referred to as "TTM", after a social worker made a mistake when she applied to have him sectioned.

Matthew Seligman, with law firm Steel & Shamash, which represented TTM, He said: "This case serves as a warning to social workers to follow the Mental Health Act procedures when detaining patients."

TTM was detained at Homerton Hospital, east London, in early 2009 after being sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act. But the social worker had mistakenly supposed after a phone call that the nearest relative, TTM's brother, no longer objected to his treatment.

Mental health legislation allows applications to be made for sectioning only if a patient's nearest relative does not object.