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Chapter 1 - Setting the Scene, Statutory Law and the Common Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2022

Tony Zigmond
Affiliation:
Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist, RCPsych Lead on Mental Health Law
Nick Brindle
Affiliation:
Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
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Summary

The law, like medicine, is full of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, with ‘not yet determined’ in place of the medical ‘not yet known’. In that it is ‘man-made’ it is simpler than medicine, but it has the added complication that it does not remain static, being amended by Parliament and the courts as the attitudes of society change. Although some questions have a clear answer, a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘lawful’ or ‘unlawful’, most do not. Rarely, this is because there is no law. More commonly, it is because the law could be interpreted in several ways and, as yet, there hasn’t been a relevant court case or, as will be seen, there have been many cases with different judges interpreting the law in different ways.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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