The Mental Health (Hospital, Guardianship and Treatment) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were laid before parliament on 1 October 2020 and will come into force on 1 December 2020.
The Regulations allow for certain statutory forms used for the powers of admission, detention and treatment under Part 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (the MHA) to be served by electronic means. Those bodies or authorities in receipt of the forms may agree to receive them electronically, save for one exception. Documents cannot be served on patients solely by electronic means.
Forms under Part 2 of the MHA can still be provided via non-electronic means, but the Regulations give the necessary authority for electronic provision as part of modernising the MHA. Service is considered to take place immediately except for an order for discharge by the nearest relative, which would be deemed service on the start of the next business day after the order is sent by electronic means. Signing the forms includes use of electronic signatures (as defined in Section 7(2) of the Electronic Communications Act 2000).
Schedule 1 provides for the new wording of the statutory forms. A transitional provision applies to allow for the use of the old statutory forms where provided by non-electronic means until 1 February 2021. The new forms must be used for electronic provision from 1 December 2020.
This is a welcome step for practitioners and statutory bodies alike to enable easier completion and transmission of the relevant statutory forms. This puts what has already been practice in some areas of the country during the height of the pandemic on a clear legal footing.
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