Giving client copies of section papers

If your client wants copies of their section papers but you are aware that they are planning to harass the AMHP who sectioned them, would you simply hand them over?

I am not a solicitor, but The Code of Practice 4.16 requires patients to be given the section papers by the MHA administrator anyway, although in practice they have to ask for them. I don’t think the risk of the patient “harassing” the AMHP can be justification for not providing them.


Despite the morality of the situation I would agree. I would however advise the client to request them himself

I totally agree, there are other laws in place to prevent harassment if indeed this is taking place and is unfortunate that practitioners have to experience this. But we should always remember that this is not part and parcel of the job and should always escalate where necessary…

Here’s what the Code of Practice says:

4.16 In addition, a copy of the detention or CTO documentation should be made available to the patient as soon as practicable and as a priority, unless the hospital managers are of the opinion (based on the advice of the authors of the documents) that the information disclosed would adversely affect the health or wellbeing of the patient or others. It may be necessary to remove any personal information about third parties.

The SRA Code of Conduct requires us to make the client aware of all material information, but one exception is:

you have reason to believe that serious physical or mental injury will be caused to your client or another if the information is disclosed

I suppose it depends on the seriousness of the proposed harassment!

If you are worried, then maybe you could give him the section papers with the AMHP’s details removed (either on the basis that it’s not material to the retainer, or under the serious injury exception) and suggest he ask the MHA Administrator for the full version.

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