Who? Rheian Davies, 45, principal of London firm DH Law.
Why is she in the news? Won a Court of Appeal (CoA) ruling that her client TW could lodge a claim for unlawful detention and psychiatric injury after a local authority caused her to be unlawfully detained in hospital for 77 days.
The case arose when a social worker applied for TW, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. However, the social worker failed to consult the nearest relative – TW’s father – before making the application, although required to do so under a provision of the Mental Health Act (MHA).
This was because, under a provision of the MHA, the social worker judged that ‘such a consultation [was] not reasonably practicable or would involve unreasonable delay’.
In May 2013 the High Court agreed with the social worker’s reasoning and dismissed TW’s claim on the grounds that, if the local authority had consulted TW’s father without her permission, it would have breached her European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) right to privacy. Such an action was therefore, by definition, ‘not reasonably practicable’.
The CoA reversed this decision, ruling that TW’s father had a statutory right to be consulted and that it was unlawful for a public authority to act in a way that is incompatible with any ECHR right. Any decision, it ruled, should have taken into account and balanced TW’s two – in this case conflicting – ECHR rights.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This is a positive result for mental health patients who are detained.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I used to be a mental health nurse. Maybe I got tired of the pension, benefits and regular salary.’
Career high: ‘Winning legal aid lawyer of the year three years ago.’
Career low: ‘Watching the dismantling of access to justice through legal aid cuts, the Jackson reforms and the assault on judicial reviews.’