Who We Are
The Central Team within the Directorate of Legal Services is comprised of a number of specialist Solicitors and Legal Assistants. The areas covered for the HSC are judicial review, declaratory applications to the High Court, the Mental Capacity Act, RQIA and NISCC.
The areas covered comprise diverse areas of law and clientele which includes the Trusts and other HSC organisations.
What We Do
The Central Team represents the Health and Social Care Trusts in a variety of areas of law which includes:
- Judicial Reviews and Declaratory Orders
Declaratory Order (DO) applications are brought to the High Court by Legal Services when it is necessary to intervene to protect those who have been assessed to lack the relevant capacity. Such applications are normally to seek an Order to declare lawful, often urgent, medical interventions in the patient’s best interests. Judicial Reviews (JR) are challenges made to the High Court in relation to HSC decisions or actions taken in essence these are challenges to the legality of a HSC decision.
- Mental Capacity
The Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 represents a unique attempt to combine mental capacity and mental health law to form a single piece of legislation. The legislation has only been partially implemented, specifically regarding the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). Legal Services has a small, dedicated team in place providing advice and guidance on the DoLS processes and procedures. The team also represents Trusts before the Review Tribunal when the legality of the DoLS is considered by the independent Tribunal.
Central team also provides:-
- Advice and representation to the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (the regulatory body for social workers and social care workers).
- Advice and representation to RQIA.
Where court proceedings are necessary, Central Team deals with the conduct of the litigation and any issues as they arise during the course of the proceedings in conjunction with the client and counsel if and when instructed such as:
- Drafting pleadings and draft Orders
- Instructing counsel and experts, if necessary
- Consultations with counsel, witnesses, experts and other related bodies such as the Official Solicitor
- Attending court reviews
- Attempting to resolve the matter where appropriate or bring the matter to hearing without undue delay
- Attending the hearing of the case
- Ensuring that costs are scrutinised and challenged as applicable
Central Team provides training on an ongoing basis as required and has provided training recently on the new Mental Capacity Act and also on the Mental Health Review Tribunals for Approved Social Workers.