As the author acknowledges, this is not a practitioner’s guide, and he points people who need one in the direction of A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act (see this review). Having said that, while this an academic review of the relevant law, there is detail which is of practical use for lawyers in the field.
This book’s purpose is threefold: to provide a comparative review of mental health law in four jurisdictions: England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland; to provide the detail as to the primary legislation in each jurisdiction; and to offer ‘a manifesto for change’ in the way we treat people with mental health problems.
Author: Brendan Kelly
£40, RCPsych Publications
For me its real value lies in the author’s examination of what is now the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016. The Northern Ireland legislation is of considerable interest because it is apparently the first piece of legislation in the world which ‘fuses mental health and capacity legislation into a single document’ and ‘eliminates the distinction between those who are mentally ill and those who have reduced capacity for other reasons’.
Professor Kelly’s consideration of this ‘experiment’ is challenging but persuasive. To the disappointment of many, he is not convinced that this attempt is as progressive as would appear at first blush. He even considers it perhaps ‘illiberal’.
Michael Kennedy is head of the mental health and court of protection departments at Switalskis Solicitors, York