39 Essex Chambers: Mental Capacity Law

The web site of 39 Essex Chambers features articles and other resources on a range of legal topics. This section of the site, devoted to mental capacity law, includes case notes, newsletters, articles and guidance notes on the Court of Protection and related matters.

Ashworth Special Hospital: Report of the Committee of Inquiry

This inquiry, chaired by His Honour Peter Fallon QC, investigated allegations by a former patient about misuse of drugs and alcohol, financial irregularities, possible paedophile activity, and the availability of pornographic material on Ashworth Special Hospital’s Personality Disorder Unit. The full text of the inquiry’s report, published January 1999, is available here on the GOV.UK site.

Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all health and adult social care in England, and protects the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Established under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, it replaced the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009. The site provides background information, consultations, guidance and other documents, including key publications of the bodies which the CQC replaced.

Court of Protection

The Court of Protection makes decisions in relation to the property and affairs, and healthcare and personal welfare, of adults who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Information provided either directly here on the GOV.UK site or via links to other sites includes forms and guidance, practice directions and procedural rules, daily cause lists, and decisions 2000 onwards.

Department of Health & Social Care

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is responsible for government policy on health, adult social care and the National Health Service in England. (In the rest of the UK these responsibilities fall to the devolved governments.) This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the department’s activities, policies, publications, announcements, consultations and statistics. Publications include recent letters and Local Authority Circulars: for older ones it may be necessary to search in the old Department of Health web site, which was last archived in February 2013 by the National Archives’ UK Government Web Archive.

First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health)

The First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) is responsible for hearing applications or references relating to people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007) in England. Formerly known as the Mental Health Review Tribunal, it has since 3 November 2008 formed part of the First-tier Tribunal’s Health, Education and Social Care Chamber. This section of the GOV.UK web site has information on the application procedure with links to forms, guidance, practice directions and legislation.

John Barrett Report

John Barrett was convicted in February 2005 of the manslaughter of Denis Finnegan on 2 September 2004, during a period when he had been receiving support from psychiatric and social services in south west London. An independent inquiry into his care and treatment, chaired by Robert Robinson, a solicitor, was commissioned by South West London Strategic Health Authority. Its report, published November 2006, may be downloaded here from the archived web site of the Authority’s successor, NHS London. Several other reports of inquiries into mental health homicides in London are also available here.

Kerr/Haslam Inquiry Report

The Kerr/Haslam inquiry was concerned with the sexual abuse of psychiatric patients. Chaired by Nigel Pleming QC, it inquired into how NHS services in Yorkshire dealt with concerns raised about two consultant psychiatrists, Dr William Kerr and Mr Michael Haslam. The full report of the inquiry, published 18 July 2005, is accessible here on the GOV.UK web site.

Mental Health Law Online

This site was originally called Wiki Mental Health, having been created as a wiki in 2006 by Jonathan Wilson, a solicitor specialising in this area of law. Coverage now includes mental capacity law as well as mental health law in England and Wales. All of the site’s main sections, which include case law, legislation and general information, feature commentary and links to sources. There is a free email updating service, with updates also posted on-site.

Mental Health Lawyers Association

The Mental Health Lawyers Association (MHLA) represents approximately 80% of mental health law practitioners in England and Wales. It is open to members of the Law Society’s Mental Health Panel and, as associate members, to others such as barristers who practise in this field. Site content accessible by non-members includes lists of members, press releases and other documents. The monthly mental health law updates provided by Mental Health Law Online are also posted on the MHLA site, from March 2012 onwards.

Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales

The Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales (MHRT for Wales) deals with applications and references by and in respect of patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007) in Wales. Its web site includes forms, guidance, FAQs and links to legislation.

Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland

The Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (MHTS) began hearings in October 2005, when the main provisions of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 came into force. Its web site provides information on the Tribunal’s role and organisation, including quarterly statistical reports on its activities and annual reports. The section “Legislation and Caselaw” has links to relevant legislation and full texts of court judgments in appeals against MHTS decisions.

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland

The Mental Welfare Commission was set up to safeguard the rights of people in Scotland with mental illness or learning difficulties. It operates within the framework of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. The web site, whilst not reproducing those Acts as such, provides commentary, guidance, codes of practice, forms, reports of investigations and inquiries (anonymized), and annual reports 2007/08 onwards. Legislation is provided via links to Legislation.gov.uk.

Michael Stone Inquiry

Michael Stone, who had a history of mental disorder, drug abuse and violence, was convicted in October 1998 of the murder of Lin and Megan Russell and the serious wounding of Josie Russell, on 9 July 1996. An independent inquiry into his care and treatment, chaired by Robert Francis QC, was completed in November 2000 but not published until September 2006. Its report (PDF) is available here on the archived NHS South of England web site.

NHS Wales: Mental Health Act 1983

This NHS Wales microsite was created to provide information and training materials during the implementation of the Mental Health Act 2007 in Wales. Content includes guidance; booklets and leaflets; links to secondary legislation on the Legislation.gov.uk site; the Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice for Wales; information on the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales; forms; and training materials.

Office of the Public Guardian

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) provides legal protection for people in England and Wales who may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. An executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, it was created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, superseding the former Public Guardianship Office (PGO) on 1 October 2007. This section of the GOV.UK web site has information, guidance, forms, and publications including annual reports 2005-2006 onwards. Much of the content relates to making and registering lasting powers of attorney.

Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland)

This Office was established by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. It performs a supervisory role with regard to those appointed to exercise functions relating to the property and financial affairs of adults with incapacity. The web site provides forms, guides and codes of practice relating to powers of attorney including Electronic Powers of Attorney Registration (EPOAR), access to funds, interventions, guardianship and other matters.

Official Solicitor and Public Trustee

This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the role and work of the Official Solicitor to the Senior Courts and the Public Trustee, who in various ways help people who may be vulnerable because of their lack of mental capacity or young age. Publications include guidance documents and annual reports, and there are links to further information on matters such as international child abduction and international maintenance claims.