Call for Papers – Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law Stream Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, 9 – 11 April 2014

This years Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference is to be held at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

Initial Deadline for submissions: 27 January 2014

The past year has been a lively one for those interested in mental health and mental capacity law. The Supreme Court has made its first decision interpreting the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (and presumably its decision on the meaning of ‘deprivation of liberty’ will be handed down before the Conference). The Court of Protection continues to cut new ground, most notably in areas relating to best interests. We continue to see the results of how the Scots legislation and the Mental Health Act 2007 south of the border, are working in practice (CTOs, anyone?). At the international level, it is increasingly clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is changing what is expected of mental health and mental capacity law.
While these legal developments provide a particularly apt occasion for the stream, papers from all areas of the law relating to mental health, mental capacity and mental disability are welcome, including:
• Civil, criminal or informal mechanisms of control, in hospital or in the community
• The law relating to incapacity benefits, and other issues relating to care and programmes in the community;
• Issues relating to discrimination on the basis of mental disability (be it mental health issues, psychosocial disabilities, or learning disabilities)
• International law relating to people with mental disabilities;
• The role of administration or care-givers in the provision of services;
• The role or experience of service users in mental health care.
We impose no restriction on methodology: papers may be empirical, policy-centred, historical, analytic, traditional legal, or theoretical, in approach.
The SLSA is an interdisciplinary organization, and papers are welcome from any academic background, and from people at any stage of their career.
The stream co-ordinator is also happy to consider joint sessions with other streams in the conference where appropriate.
Please feel free to circulate this call for papers to interested scholars and other interested persons working in any discipline related to law and mental disability.

The stream co-ordinator is Peter Bartlett ( Please feel free to contact him with enquiries about the stream. Proposals for papers should be submitted online through the conference website.

About the conference

The Socio-Legal Studies Conference occurs annually, in 2014 at the Department of Law at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. It is among the major socio-legal studies conferences internationally, attracting a wide variety of scholars, and subject streams within the conference span the range of topics in socio-legal studies.

All attendees (including presenters) must register for the conference and pay the required attendance fee. Reduced rates are available prior to 7 February 2014, and also for students and SLSA members. Scholarships are also available for students. For more information, see the conference web site.

Is the phrase ‘chemical cosh’ a problem?

‘…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.’ (Hamlet Act II, Scene II)

I taught a 2hr seminar today under the influence of a benzodiazepine. This was a good thing. I have epilepsy which is usually under control but recently I have suffered breakthrough seizures which are unpleasant and subsequently disrupt my memory, mood, behaviour and energy levels. This term I have had to rearrange classes at short notice when recovering from seizures, but thanks to an incredibly good service from my GP and consultant after suffering a minor seizure last night, I popped a new type of pill and was well enough to work this morning.

Ironically, at the moment I am writing a paper on the good of medication, or the challenging problem of defining whether it is the effectiveness of medication or the circumstances in which it is administered which make it a good intervention in some cases. But a conversation I had at the weekend where the phrase ‘chemical cosh’ was used made me realise how uncomfortable I feel about coming out about how I use medication to control my brain and psychological ‘mis’behaviour. Continue reading

A NHS Trust v Dr A: A New Bournewood Gap?

At issue in this post is the situation where a deprivation of liberty may be required for practical purposes, but is apparently precluded by the eligibility requirements contained in schedule 1A of the MCA.

This situation arose in A NHS Trust v Dr A [2013] EWHC 2442 (COP). At the relevant time, Dr A, an Iranian doctor wishing to claim refugee status in the UK, was detained under s 3 of the Mental Health Act with a diagnosis of either paranoid personality disorder or a psychotic disorder. His passport had been confiscated by the UK Border Agency pending his enforced return to Iran, and he had commenced a hunger strike in an attempt to obtain its return. At the time of the court hearing, his weight was dangerously low. He had been force fed with a PEG for some time, but had commenced to remove it and thus actively resist the artificial feeding, resulting in a requirement of his ongoing sedation. The question was therefore whether the artificial feeding could be continued. Continue reading

VT and defining best interests at the end of life…

This post is about the judgment reported on the BBC yesterday concerning an application by an NHS Trust regarding their duties to resuscitate or intensively care for a Muslim man, Mr VT, who is currently in a minimally conscious state. The Trust took the view that further invasive treatment would not be in his best interests and the family opposed the application. Continue reading

Reporting judgments in the Court of Protection

Sorry it has been a while. We’ve got some plans to migrate this blog over to a new site hosted on the Nottingham university website and generally make it bigger and better and I thought I’d add some blog posts ahead of time. I am trying to convince Peter Bartlett to share his views on the judgment in MH v UK.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to dissect the role autonomy plays in current judicial decision-making and formulate a coherent account of the role autonomy should play in how judges make substitute judgments on behalf of adults. One issue that arises remarkably infrequently in the caselaw is the relationship between autonomy and privacy… Continue reading