Justice for people with mental health problems who can now serve on juries

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Posted on 17/07/2013

Only now, five months since the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill became an Act, have the changes to people being able to serve on a jury come into effect.

In February of this year we celebrated as the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill became an Act, meaning, at long last, three of the last remaining pieces of discrimination in UK law were overturned. 

This momentous event involved the scrapping of three laws which stated people who are having ongoing treatment for a mental health problem could not serve on a jury, Members of Parliament (MPs) sectioned under the UK’s Mental Health Act 1983 for six months or longer would automatically lose their seat, and people could be removed from a board of company directors because of their mental health.  

The changes relating to MPs and company directors came into effect in April, two months after the date of Royal Assent.

But it is only now, five months on, that the changes to people being able to serve on a jury have come into effect. The Ministry of Justice have put in place arrangements to work around the existing system until the amended guidance and jury service forms are completed in the coming weeks. This means people will no longer be denied their right to carry out jury service because they are receiving treatment for a mental health condition.

Louise Kirsh, Parliamentary Manager at Mind, said:

"It was such a victory when the Bill became an Act in February, marking the end of some stigmatising laws that only served to uphold the outdated and inaccurate view that people with mental health problems couldn’t make a valuable contribution to society.

Although we celebrated this landmark, in recent months we have heard from many of our supporters who were disappointed to find they were still being deemed ineligible for jury service. That’s why we’re so pleased that these changes are finally being implemented."

Have you experienced discrimination due to your mental health? Get in touch and share your experiences.

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