The Court of Appeal confirms that personal injury settlements cannot be taken into account when arranging aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
We reported on the High Court decision in this case in our June 2017 newsletter. For the reasons set out in that article we are pleased that the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the local authority, the grounds of which were that:
- on proper construction of section 117 the local authority is not required to provide aftercare services to a person who has received damages for their future care; and
- to allow free aftercare where there was such an award would offend the principle of double recovery - the claimant having received damages to pay for care which later had to be provided for free.
The Court of Appeal considered that the first ground was "an impossible argument" given the clear decision from the House of Lords in Stennet  that section 117 services cannot be charged for:
"Manchester is effectively seeking, in the teeth of the express obligation to provide s.117 services, to recover by the back door what it cannot recover by the front."
On the second ground, the local authority submitted that it should not be required to provide aftercare until Mr Tinsley can show that the funds awarded to him for his care are about to run out. Otherwise, they suggested, a person could receive a sum of money for future care then simply turn to the local authority for free care and pocket the rest.
The court considered that in even such an “extreme case” this would be a matter for the proceedings in which damages are claimed - calling into question the truth of the claimant’s account that they intended to fund their care privately – and would not permit the local authority to refuse to provide aftercare. While the court acknowledged the concerns of the local authority in cases such as these Lord Justice Longmore suggested that in reality most people would not turn to local authority support while they have the option of funding their care privately.
The report can be found here.