NATALIE Roberts, a partner at GHP Legal, answers your legal queries...

Q: My son has been detained under section two of the Mental Health Act. I have been informed I am his ‘nearest relative’. I disagree with his detention but don’t know if I have any rights to do anything about it. What do you advise?

A: ‘Nearest relative’ is different to ‘next of kin’. Being your son’s ‘nearest relative’ means you can ensure his rights are protected while he is unwell in hospital.

Under section two of the Mental Health Act 1983, persons can be detained for up to 28 days if hospital doctors believe they are suffering from a mental disorder requiring assessment to determine risk to their own health, or safety or for the protection of others.

As nearest relative, you have the right to be consulted by doctors and health professionals about decisions they wish to make for your son and to receive information from the hospital, unless your son requests otherwise. You have the right to request discharge off section two. You can write to the hospital managers providing them with 72 hours’ notice that you wish your son to be discharged from hospital.

The doctors can challenge your discharge notice but if they don’t, your son can leave the hospital after 72 hours. If the doctors object, a hospital managers’ hearing will be arranged to consider your son's detention. If your discharge application is blocked, you cannot reapply for six months.

If it is considered you have exercised your right to request your son’s discharge without due regard to his welfare or the interests of the general public, you may be displaced as the nearest relative.

You should seek legal advice in your own right, independent of any legal advice sought by your son. This is a highly-complicated area of law so do seek specialist advice from a mental-health solicitor. Means-tested public funding may be available.

- Further information relating to this question is available from Natalie Roberts, a partner with GHP Legal. For an appointment visit or contact one of our offices: Oswestry 01691 659194, Chirk 01691 777949, Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313. We offer free legal diagnostic clinics (no appointment necessary).

In Oswestry, Wednesdays from midday to 3pm for personal injury, employment and family matters.

In Wrexham, Mondays 9.30am to midday for employment matters, midday to 3pm for personal injury and family matters.

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