It was not lawful for the defendant local social services authority to refuse to provide after-care services to the claimant, under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983, on the basis that the claimant had no need of such provision because he was able to fund it himself from his personal injuries damages. The Court of Appeal Civil Division upheld the decision of the High Court in so deciding that point of law.

Tinsley (by his litigation friend and property and affairs deputy) v Manchester City Council (Local Government Association intervening) [2017] EWCA Civ 1704 Court of Appeal, Civil Division, Sir Terence Etherton MR, Longmore and Irwin LJJ - 1 November 2017

Mental health – Persons who lack capacity – Deprivation of liberty


The claimant had been compulsorily detained in a hospital for a mental disorder under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (the MeHA 1983). The claimant was then released from detention but still required ‘after-care services’. He sought to require the defendant local authority to provide such services under section 117 of the MeHA 1983. That was despite having funds received by him reflecting the costs of care awarded to him in a judgment in his favour against a negligent tortfeasor. The authority responded that, since it had no reason to believe that the claimant could not continue to pay for his own care using the funds derived from the damages he had received for future care in the personal injury claim, it did not consider itself to be under any duty to provide after-care services under section 117. The claimant issued judicial review proceedings. The judge decided to resolve the question of the lawfulness of the refusal to provide after-care services as a preliminary issue. He decided it was unlawful and gave permission to appeal. The authority appealed.

Appeal dismissed.

Issues and decisions

(1) Whether on the correct construction of section 117 of the MeHA 1983, the authority’s refusal to provide after-care services unless it was satisfied that the damages awarded had run out, was unlawful.

It was impossible to contend that the obligation imposed on the authority by section 117 the MeHA 1983 to provide after-care services to persons compulsorily detained pursuant to section 3 of the MeHA 1983 did not apply to a claimant with funds available for that purpose provided by a tortfeasor. A refusal to pay for such services was effectively the same as providing such services but charging for them. Charging persons such as the claimant had already been held to be impermissible. The authority was effectively seeking, in the teeth of the express obligation to provide section 117 services, to recover by the back door what it could not recover by the front (see [12] of the judgment).

The authority’s argument apparently extended to cases where funds had been provided for after-care by any third party, not just by a tortfeasor. However, to deny the right to after-care services in cases where funds had been provided by voluntary donation would be against all reason. Nor did the argument cater for a situation where a case settled (with or without a discount for contributory negligence) for a global unapportioned sum – as happened with great frequency (see [13] of the judgment).

The authority’s submission was moreover contrary to established case law regarding double recovery (see [14]-[16] of the judgment).  

It was also relevant to note that section 117 of the MeHA 1983 imposed the duty to provide after-care services not merely on local authorities but also on clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). CCGs could not charge for their services or take patients’ means into account when deciding what services to provide. It would be odd if the local authorities could decide not to make provision for after-care services by reason of any personal injury award but local authorities could so decide in relation to what was essentially a health-related form of care and treatment (see [18], [35]-[37] of the judgment).

R (on the application of Medhanye) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] 1 CMLR 1190 considered.

(2) Whether the principle of double recovery prevented the claimant from claiming under section 117 of the MeHA 1983.

It did not follow from the principle of avoidance of double recovery that if a claimant was awarded damages for his after-care he was thereafter precluded from making application to the local authority. Nor could it be said that the Peters principle derived from Peters v East Midland Strategic Health Authority be applied namley; a duty on the claimant not to make a claim until the funds from the award had run out (see [26], [27] [35]-[37] of the judgment).

Peters v East Midlands Strategic Health Authority [2009] All ER (D) 24 (Mar) considered.

Decision of Judge Stephen Davies [2016] EWHC 2855 (Admin) affirmed.

Jenni Richards QC and Adam Fullwood (instructed by Hugh Jones Solicitors, Manchester) for the claimant.

Hilton Harrop-Griffiths (instructed by City Solicitor, Manchester City Council) for the authority.

The interested party did not attend and was not represented.

Stephen Knafler QC made written submission on behalf of the intervener.

Tara Psaila, Barrister.