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1 - Introduction: Values, Participation and Mental Capacity Laws in International Comparative Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2024

Camillia Kong
Affiliation:
Birkbeck College, University of London
John Coggon
Affiliation:
University of Bristol
Penny Cooper
Affiliation:
Birkbeck College, University of London
Michael Dunn
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Alex Ruck Keene
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

Introduction

Since the start of the 21st century, policy developments and legal practice have increasingly sought to express and implement changes that recognise the equality and rights of persons with mental impairments, including persons with learning disabilities and mental disorders. A great deal of academic scholarship, legal commentary and policy recommendations have focused attention on internal analyses of specific jurisdictions – for example, academic and practice-based discussions of mental capacity law in England and Wales have flourished in the time leading up to and since the instantiation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). Equally, much scholarship has focused on the changing human rights landscape since the advent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), with particular attention on the meaning of its requirements and jurisdiction-specific adherence to human rights aspirations. Dialogue between these jurisdiction-specific and human rights analyses has become increasingly common. Less common – but no less important – is an international comparative perspective across different legal approaches to mental capacity law, to encourage learning and critical reflection based on a closer analysis of how different jurisdictions grapple with common issues and imperatives around assuring the empowerment and participation in decision-making by, with and for individuals with impairments.

The purpose of this edited collection is to advance this much-needed international comparative contribution to mental capacity law. Our particular focus in the volume is to spur on a comparative-oriented conversation around substantive commonalities and divergences in normative orientation and practical application embedded in different legal frameworks. Regarding normative orientation, we are particularly keen to critically identify how values and assumptions are built into laws (formally or by convention) about persons and personal decision-making, and what this is taken to mean for the roles of law, institutions, and legal and other professionals. Crucially, we are interested against that to understand what those laws mean for the place and voice of persons whose decisions are governed by such laws. Therefore, in practical application we are not only interested in the letter of different laws, but also how they function; including what they miss, or whether and how they may be inequitable in their application or generate outcomes that are opposed to their (apparent) rationales.

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Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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