S117 for student and Ordinary Residence

Hi all,

I would be very grateful for your comments/advise on this.

P was living in county A, then moved to county B where he went to University. He later became unwell, left University to stay with a family in county B. Family took him to A&E and he was seen by Mental health liaison who requested for MHA assessment. P was assessed under the MHA Act by an AMHP and s12 doctors. Detained to a private psychiatric hospital under s2. When s2 was coming to an end, he was further assessed and detained under s3.

Please who holds s117 responsibility, County A or B?

Thanks in advance

Usually, the one in the area he/she lived before detention.


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Difficult to judge from the limited information here. Probably best to start with the Shah test of ordinary residence.
“…‘ordinarily resident’ refers to a man’s abode in a particular place or country which he has adopted voluntarily and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of his life for the time being, whether of short or long duration.”
So P appears to have moved from A to B to be at university, arguably for settled purposes, albeit possibly of only relatively short or medium duration.
P’s intention on where to stay during vacations may have an impact on this. If P was planning to remain in the area of the university during vacation time, then that will make the argument for B as the area of OR much stronger.
When P went to stay with a family, the intent here is of relevance, whether it was just for a few nights, or alternatively as an alternative residence after leaving the university.
So more questions than answers, I’m afraid, and local authorities who want to avoid expensive aftercare may finish slugging it out in court or in front of the Secretary of State.
Although from the information available, it looks more likely to be B than A, in my view.


Thank you very much Steve.

You need to look up The Supreme Court has handed down its long-awaited judgment in R (Worcestershire County Council) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2023] UKSC 31.