The patient had been detained by a mental health hospital under section 3 Mental Health Act 1983. The detention under section 3 was terminated due to procedural errors, but extended under section 5 (2) for a period of 72 hours. The day after the period of detention expired, a social worker and a doctor carried out an assessment of the patient. The patient refused to cooperate and the social worker applied to detain the patient pursuant to section 3, without conferring with the patient’s nearest relative. The patient argued that this detention was unlawful.

The court said the key consideration was whether section 11 (4) of the Act had been complied with. Section.11 (4) states that an application for detention of a patient cannot be made until the mental health professional has consulted with the patient’s nearest relative. This does not apply, however, if such consultation would cause unreasonable delay or is not reasonably practicable in the circumstances. The court looked at the circumstances that the professional believed to exist. It found that the social worker (wrongly) believed that the patient was still lawfully detained until 7:30 pm and, having that belief, decided at 12:15pm that no consultation was necessary. The court held that this was clearly wrong and granted the writ of habeus corpus.

R (on the application of V) v South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust [2010]