Our Court of Protection and Mental Health team offers depth and breadth of expertise in all areas of mental health and mental capacity law. This includes health and welfare as well as property and affairs in the Court of Protection, the full range of proceedings under the Mental Health Act 1983 and associated public law and civil litigation.
Covid-19 - How we are responding
Our Court of Protection barristers are able to conduct the full range of work from home via phone, Team, Zoom and Skype. We are conducting advocates’ meetings, round table meetings as well as court hearings via these methods. Early communication with solicitors to advise on how to agree orders is now more than ever necessary.
To respond to the many queries from our clients, we are offering a same-day, pro bono, call-back service. If a solicitor in private practice or in a public body has a question they would like to talk through, please contact the Court of Protection clerks Rachel Finch (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 020 7400 9025) or Emily Norman (email@example.com, tel 020 7400 8897), who will note your issue and arrange a call-back. We are also able to arrange webinars for law firms and public bodies.
Our clerking team also offers electronic bundling services to our instructing solicitors.
What kind of cases do we act in?
The team covers the full breadth of work Court of Protection and inherent jurisdiction work at all levels, up to and including the Supreme Court. Much of our work involves novel questions relating to consent to sexual relations, forensic risk and capacity, or fluctuating capacity. We act in cases involving issues such as forced marriages, serious medical treatment, and radicalisation. We are expert in issues relating the detention of children and vulnerable adults.
Team members are regularly instructed in deprivation of liberty challenges under Section 21A Mental Capacity Act. The team is known for its expertise on the interface between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act, and the identification of deprivations of liberty in a health and social care context. Members also act in contentious property and affairs cases.
Team members advise on human rights claims involving historic and current breaches of convention rights in health and social care settings. We are actively involved in training and the development of international human rights law in this area, including on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in taking cases to Strasbourg under the European Convention on Human Rights. Team members are often instructed by bodies such as Liberty, Justice, Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which act as third-party interveners in cases raising important issues of law and practice.
We provide skilled advice and representation in the Upper Tribunal, the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) and nearest relative applications in the County Court, as well as broader public law issues arising from use of the Mental Health Act.
Who do we act for?
Team members are instructed by health and social care bodies, individuals, families, and are often instructed by the Official Solicitor for the incapacitated person. Our approach is proactive, practical and future-focussed in this sensitive and complex area of practice.
What do people say about us?
We are ranked in band 2 of Chambers and Partners’ Court of Protection: Health and Welfare category 2019. “A highly regarded set for health and welfare matters, Doughty Street Chambers is regularly called upon to act for local authorities, health authorities, incapable individuals and family members in a host of cases. The set houses a strong team of barristers noted for their expert handling of cases concerning mental capacity, mental health and deprivation of liberty.”
We are ranked in band 2 of Legal500 2019 Court of Protection. Doughty Street Chambers “'is a formidable set with a depth of expertise'. This 'excellent' set's members handle the full array of community care and Court of Protection matters.”
The bigger picture
Members of the team write and speak extensively in this area and have authored well-regarded practitioners’ texts: Butterworth’s New Law Guide to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Aswini Weereratne, Ulele Burnham and Alison Gerry). Sophy Miles co-authored LAG’s “Court of Protection Handbook” and “Mental Health Tribunals Handbook”. The team has a long history of engagement in mental health law and policy: Aswini Weereratne QC recently chaired the topic group considering the MHA/MCA interface for the ongoing Independent Review of the Mental Health Act; Sophy Miles was a member of the topic group considering MHA detention criteria. Members of the team also sit part-time in the Court of Protection and the First-Tier Tribunal (Mental Health).
International and academic links
Doughty Street has a long and established relationship with several international NGOs. Before returning to practice at the Bar, Oliver Lewis was the Executive Director of Validity (formerly MDAC, the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre), an NGO in Budapest that litigates in support of people with psychosocial disabilities and intellectual disabilities around the world. The team is also proud to have as an associate tenant Professor Jill Peay of the London School of Economics who is at the forefront of research and publication on mental health law, decision-making and the treatment of mentally disordered offenders.
Members of the team are happy to discuss and plan any specific training requirements for organisations or groups. For more information on this area, please contact Sian Wilkins or Rachel Finch from our practice management team on 020 7400 9035.