Doughty Street’s Court of Protection and Mental Health team offers depth and breadth of expertise in mental health and mental capacity law and practice. Team members have appeared in the Court of Protection since it opened its doors to health and welfare cases. Before the Mental Capacity Act 2005, team members were active in “best interests” cases under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court and were involved in seminal cases in the appellate courts.
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?
“Impressed interviewees praise the set as "a go-to chambers owing to the excellent barristers and professional service provided at all levels”…. “The clerks are all very approachable and nothing ever seems like too much bother. Their communication skills are excellent." - Chambers and Partners 2018
Doughty Street Chambers is a ‘professional and efficient set that operates to a very high standard’- … solicitors appreciate how the clerks ‘often go above and beyond what they need to do’. - Legal 500 2018
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.