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. 

Our legal experts in the Court of Protection team have been providing insightful webinars on the most relevant topics during COVID-19 to help keep you informed during this difficult time. All webinar recordings and slides that have been made available can be found below.

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 (r.finch@doughtystreet.co.uk or 020 7400 9025) or Emily Norman (e.norman@doughtystreet.co.uk or 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.

The recent judgment in DP v London Borough of Hillingdon

The recent judgment in DP v London Borough of Hillingdon [2020] EWCOP 45 addresses the use of interim orders and declarations in s21A proceedings in the Court of Protection. It is a judgment with potentially significant implications for practice and procedure in s21A proceedings and more broadly in the approach to be taken to DoLS assessments. This webinar, hosted by Dr Oliver Lewis (who acted for DP in the case), Aswini Weereratne QC, and Leonie Hirst, will explain the reasoning and implications of the case and identify its practical implications.

To access the recording, please click here.

Covid-19 deaths of care home residents: what does justice look like?

More than 20,000 people in care homes in England have died of Covid-19, and many more have died of other causes because they were not provided healthcare. In other countries a third to half Covid-19 deaths have been in care homes. These staggering numbers leave behind grieving families and friends who are asking why was this allowed to happen. There is growing anger that many deaths were preventable. Families are concerned that the government has not learned lessons so as to protect care home residents in a ‘second wave’.

This webinar will be accessible for bereaved families, care home staff, trade unions and interested others such as social workers and lawyers. Barristers from Doughty Street Chambers and invited outside speakers will hold an webinar where they will discuss:

  1. Why was the virus allowed to rampage through care homes?
  2. What was the experience of older people with dementia in care homes?
  3. How were people with learning disabilities and/or autism in care homes supported?
  4. What was the impact on BAME staff and residents?
  5. What challenges do bereaved families face accessing justice?
  6. What are the differences between an inquest, a statutory inquiry, a parliamentary inquiry and a civil claim?
  7. What can members of the public do to support bereaved families?

The panellists are:

Alexis Quinn; Author of best-selling memoir Unbroken, autistic campaigner and human rights activist

Amos Waldman; Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers

Aswini Weereratne QC; Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers

Sophy Miles; Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers

Veronica Gray; Deputy Chief Executive of Hourglass

Dr Subhajit Basu, School of Law, University of Leeds

The panel will be chaired by Dr Oliver Lewis; Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers

If you would like to attend the webinar, make a donation to the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice if you can. 

To access the recording, please click here.

Case Law Update

The Court of Protection has been as busy as ever during lockdown and important judgments have been handed down on issues such as: the correct approach to permission, capacity in the context of personality disorder, what you need to understand about care in order to decide where to live; cross border cases, and sexual relations. Gemma Daly and Sophy Miles sum up the key developments in the last few months.

Chaired by Amos Waldman.

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.

Mental Health and Disability Under Lockdown

To mark Mental Health Awareness week, DSC considers the impact of the lockdown on those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities. How have the restrictions affected their lives? What particular challenges have they faced? What can help?


Dr Sonia Johnson from UCL’s Mental Health Policy Research Unit will preview the Unit's research on the impact of Covid-19 and isolation on mental health care.

Mark Neary discusses his experiences and those of his son Steven, who has autism, as they cope under lockdown.

Zia Nabi looks at how Covid-19 has impacted people with mental health conditions who have been rough sleeping or are in precarious housing.

Sophy Miles draws the threads of the presentations together and reflect on how the rights of this group can be better protected.

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.

Independent advocates working on the front line

This webinar will be of interest to IMCAs, IMHAs and other statutory advocates as well as family members of people in mental health units and care homes.

It is a conversation between Oliver Lewis (barrister at Doughty Street Chambers) and Kate Mercer (bio below). Kate and Oliver will discuss creative advocacy practices from around the country. These will include exploring how advocates can deal with situations involving the following scenarios:

• Using technology to deliver effective advocacy

• Situations when face-to-face advocacy is justified

• Exploitation, violence or abuse

• Contact with family and friends

• Capacity and testing for Covid-19

• Suspension of s.17 MHA leave

• Planning discharge from hospital

• Leaving care homes due to risks of Covid-19

• Care and support in the community (including “easements”)

• Challenging capacity decisions and best interests decisions

• Referring cases to solicitors

Kate Mercer has been involved in advocacy for the past 15 years - initially working in the children's advocacy sector before working with Government and City & Guilds to develop Qualifications in Independent Advocacy. Following their introduction in 2008 Kate set up Blackbelt Advocacy, a training business which has since supported hundreds of advocates to successfully complete their qualification. She has also advocated with individuals and family carers in mental health settings and the community - and fiercely believes #advocacyworks.

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.

Coronavirus Act 2020 & Adult Social Care

Led by Mary-Rachel McCabe and Sophy Miles.

To access the slides, please click here.


The Coronavirus Act 2020: changes to the Mental Health Act

Led by Aswini Weereratne QC and Sophy Miles.

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.

Coronavirus and changes to DoLS

The department of Health and Social care has issued guidance to those caring for adults who lack capacity to consent to their care and treatment.

The guidance is expressed as temporary and will only apply during the pandemic, and should not become “the new norm”. It recognises that “the principles of the MCA and the safeguards provided by DOLS still apply.

In this webinar, Zoe Harper and Ulele Burnham focuses on the ways in which coronavirus impacts Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty and will draw on issues raised in a Passle post written by our own Sophy Miles which you can read here.

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.

Learning disability, coronavirus and international human rights law

At the end of this webinar, participants will be able to deploy guidance from international human rights bodies to support ECHR arguments in UK Coronavirus litigation that seeks to protect the rights of people with learning disabilities, autism and/or mental health issues.

The webinar is led by Oliver Lewis, a Doughty Street Chambers barrister with extensive experience using international human rights mechanisms on behalf of people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

Recent statements from the following bodies will be discussed:

- UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

- UN Special Rapporteurs

- World Health Organization

- European Commissioner for Human Rights

- European Committee for the Prevention of Torture

The presentation will cover:

- Information accessibility

- Rights in mental health units and care homes

- Visits to such establishments

- Virtual contact with patients/residents

- Non-discrimination in healthcare

For more information, please see this blog piece that Oliver is updating whenever a new piece of guidance is published. 

To access the slides, please click here.

To access the recording, please click here.