Experienced and committed is the best way to describe members of this team in what is a complex and sensitive area of law.
This can be seen from the list of significant cases already undertaken. 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, Sally Hatfield, Ulele Burnham and Alison Gerry). Sophy Miles co-authored LAG’s “Court of Protection Handbook” and “Mental Health Tribunals Handbook”.
What kind of cases do we act in?
The team has a strong public law background, and also regularly acts in claims for damages arising under the Human Rights Act 1998, for example, under articles 2, 3, 5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and/or the common law. These claims may arise in the context of a death of a mental patient or prisoner with mental health problems, or the detention of incapacitated persons. The team has an excellent reputation for its work before the Court of Protection where members act in health and welfare cases for all parties, including health and social care bodies, and individuals, and are often instructed by the Official Solicitor for the incapacitated person. They are particularly noted for their expertise in the difficult area of overlap between the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and issues relating to deprivation of liberty.
The team has extensive experience of human rights law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and of taking cases to Strasbourg under the European Convention on Human Rights. Team members are often instructed by bodies such as Liberty, Justice and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which act as third party interveners in cases raising important issues of law and practice. The team is expanding its reach by using its expertise to tackle mental health issues internationally. To that end it is currently engaged in undertaking strategic litigation in Europe dealing with the issue of capacity and legal guardianship with the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (see below).
Members of the team also sit as judges of the First-Tier Tribunal (Mental Health).
There is a natural overlap between the work of this team and that of other practice teams at Doughty Street. Examples are the Community Care and Health, Public Law and Criminal Teams, amongst others. This enables members to provide specialist representation in a wider context where mental health and capacity issues arise, for example, crime, prisoners, inquests, housing, community care, immigration, professional and clinical negligence, disability discrimination, children with special educational needs, cases involving institutional abuse and homicide inquiries.
International and academic links
Doughty Street has a long and established relationship with Validity (formerly MDAC, the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre) through Oliver Lewis, the Centre’s director and an associate tenant. VALIDITY is an international non-governmental organization which works towards better human rights protection for people with mental health problems and intellectual disabilities across Europe and central Asia. 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.