Landmark decision on Local Authorities' duties

A triumph for the rights of the vulnerable

09 November 2017

On 1st November,  the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in the case of Tinsley v Manchester City Council.  The Local Authority had appealed last year’s High Court decision [Manchester City Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1704, [2017] MHLO 36] in which Mr Justice Davies had agreed that it had acted unlawfully in refusing to assess and fund our client’s need for care following his release from being sectioned to treat his mental ill-health. 

It’s an important decision which helps to clarify that the kind of aftercare that Mr Tinsley is entitled to, like any other kind of medical care, shouldn’t be means tested.  The law regarding this care is covered by s.117 Mental Health Act 1983, and somewhat unusually, this makes the Council responsible for the costs, rather than the NHS. 

The Court of Appeal accepted that the impact of austerity measures has placed financial strain on local authorities, but said that it was unlawful for Manchester to try to avoid paying for Mr Tinsley’s rightful care ‘by the back door’.

Head of Hugh Jones Solicitors’ Court of Protection team Liz Hughes says “this decision is extremely welcome clarification of the complex law surrounding care funding for people with mental health conditions.  We now look forward to working constructively with Manchester City Council in order to make sure that Mr Tinsley’s support can continue sustainably into the future”.

The firm confirmed that the decision is “a triumph for the rights of the vulnerable”, adding that “it’s a matter of regret that the local authority’s refusal to discuss our client’s position has led to it spending large, yet avoidable sums in legal costs, rather than funding frontline care”.