Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958

'Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.' Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958

The Small Places has moved...

The Small Places has moved to a new home here, including all the old posts. Any posts after 6th March 2014 will appear on the new website, but old posts are preserved here so that URLs linking here continue to work. Please check out the new site.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The mental capacity shopping channel

Am I the only person who gets improbably excited to see the 39 Essex St Court of Protection Newsletter in my inbox each month?  It's like all my Christmases have come at once, as today I received a copy of the consolidated volume (2008-11) of the Court of Protection Law Reports, produced by Mr Justice Baker (Editor in Chief), Judge Denzil Lush and District Judge Marc Marin (Consulting Editors), 39 Essex St barristers Victoria Butler-Cole and Alexander Ruck-Keene, and Eason Rajah QC of 10 Old Square (Editors).  But before you panic (like I did), I'm told that the much loved 39 Essex St newsletter will continue.  The consolidated volume, and the new series of law reports are published by Jordans.


In the preface to the consolidated volume, Baker J comments that the major reforms heralded by the Cental Capacity Act 2005 have 'heralded a significant new body of case-law as the judges of the new court, and subsequently the Court of Appeal, have grappled with these important and complex provisions'.  He writes that the new Court of Protection Reports are 'designed to ensure that this emerging case-law receives a wider audience amongst lawyers and other professionals practising in this challenging field.'  Flicking through it, there are many familiar and well known cases, and it is wonderful to have them all in one place.  There is also a handy 'subject matter' index at the beginning, which lists the relevant cases to consult for particular subjects, for example G v E & Ors [2010] EWHC 3385 (Fam) is listed under 'Costs - welfare - Local authority acting unlawfully - Whether disregard of deprivation of liberty provision justified making of costs order against public body'.

Baker J writes that 'A further aim is to dispel the myth that the new court is some form of sinister secret tribunal'.  I laud the goal of publishing more Court of Protection case law (have I yet ranted that the Court of Appeal case K v LBX & Ors [2012] suggests there is an important, but unreported, line of Court of Protection case law reversing the 'Munby' line of reasoning that life with family is preferable to life in an institution 'however benign and enlightened?).  I hope that with a more 'official' and 'authoritative' set of law reports, judges will be encouraged to remember that their rulings are of considerable interest to lawyers, researchers, the media and the wider public, and make more strenuous efforts to put anonymised versions in the public domain.  Even those issues which may not appear to be of legal interest, may yet be of considerable policy and social interest, and justice does not belong to lawyers alone.  Sadly, however, I suspect it will be quite some time before we see journalists reaching for the law reports before pontificating on what might be going on in the 'sinister secret tribunal'; it's both much more mundane, and much more fascinating, than the media suspect.

Meanwhile Mental Health Law Online have been busy, and have produced an annual review for 2011 with summaries and details of important developments in mental health and mental capacity law, and if the thought of being able to read it on a beach or in bed, takes your fancy then you can also purchase it for your Kindle for the princely sum of £1.53.  You could also sign up to their free Kindle update service.  With such portable law you could read it anywhere!  Even read it on the bus, and nobody would ever know - they'd probably think you were reading Steven King or something.

Anyway, in case this blog is starting to look like the mental capacity shopping channel, I can assure you that next week I'll be back to 'proper blogging' with thoughts on new guidance about mental capacity and tenancies.

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