The Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association membership is composed of solicitors on the Mental Health Commission’s legal representative panel and Mental Health Legal Practitioners and academics specialising in the area of Mental Health law. It is a non-profit making organisation run by a committee elected by its membership.

The Association was set up in early 2007 by Mark Felton and Áine Hynes with the support of the panel solicitors. The objectives of the IMHLA are:

  • to encourage and maintain the highest standard of preparation, representation and practice in relation to mental health law

  • to promote the best interests of persons in approved centres

  • to participate in discussions on developments in the area of mental health law

  • to represent the interests of members of the Association

The Association has, since its inception, been very active in promoting awareness within its membership of High Court judgements and legal knowledge gained from Mental Health tribunal practices. The IMHLA has held seminars regularly since its inception and we have been privileged to have the input of many eminent experts in the area of mental health law and practice. 

We liaise regularly with service user groups and other stakeholders in the Mental Health arena in an effort to examine not only the legal view but the views of all parties involved in Mental Health tribunals and the wider mental health care community. We have developed important links with stakeholders and groups such as Mental Health Reform, Irish Advocacy, the National Service Users Executive, Shine and Amnesty International, FLAC and PILA. We work very hard to facilitate the exchange of information to best serve the interests of our clients. 

The IMHLA has made a number of submissions to the Mental Health Commission and the government, including a recent written submission relating to the operation of the 2001 Act in the context of the proposed review of the 2001 Act, which highlighted practical areas of concern such as, the absence of any definition of capacity in the act and the lack of legal safeguards for voluntary patients under the Act. 

IMHLA members have spoken at conferences and participated in the continuing professional development of other professionals, such as psychiatrists, in the area of mental health tribunal law. 

Two members of the IMHLA – Mark Felton and Áine Hynes were invited by the President of the Law Society to participate in its task force in this area of law. Our Chair, Áine Hynes is a member of the Expert Steering Group established by Minister Lynch in July of 2012 to review the Mental Health Act 2001. 

The IMHLA is always interested in getting input from members or non-members so please contact any committee members on their email or at their office with any comments or suggestions you may have.  

Form for joining or renewing membership:    IMHLA Membership Form 

Darius Whelan, President d.whelan@ucc.ie 
Joan Doran, Chair joan@joandoran.ie
Keith Walsh, Vice-Chair keith@kwsols.ie
Áine Hynes, PR and Members ainehynes@stjohnsolicitors.ie    
Mark Felton, Secretary Mark@feltonmcknight.ie    
Mairéad Quigley, Education mquigleylaw@gmail.com    
John Neville, Treasurer  john@johnnevilleandco.ie 
Sinead Maguire, Regional Officer - Sligo sineadmaguire@yahoo.com