Students Staff

18 March 2014

Essex Autonomy Project to advise Ministry of Justice on compliance with United Nations Convention

The Essex Autonomy Project is to provide advice to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as part of an ongoing review of whether the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is compliant with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD).

As part of this advisory project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Essex Autonomy Project team will organise a series of three public policy roundtable meetings to be held at the Ministry of Justice’s headquarters in London in May and June this year.

The Essex Autonomy Project is a research and knowledge exchange initiative, led by an interdisciplinary team of philosophers and legal experts, that has been investigating the ideal of self-determination across a number of fields including health care, care for the elderly, social care and psychiatric care.

Professor Wayne Martin, from the Essex Autonomy Project, said: “The MCA was adopted in 2005, and the UK ratified the UNCRPD in 2009, but there has as yet been no systematic assessment of whether the British statute complies with the UN requirements, or how it would need to be amended in order to achieve compliance. There are potentially huge implications for the way frontline staff working in social care or health care deal with individuals where mental capacity is in question.

“Critics of the MCA have argued that its provisions systematically discriminate against persons with disabilities, and that its regime of “best interests decisions” should be replaced by a system of supported decision-making. With the UN preparing its country report on the UK, it is vital to submit these arguments to close critical scrutiny.

“A Ministry of Justice team is preparing a report on these questions and we will be providing technical advice to them. We want to use the public policy roundtables to bring together judges, civil servants, representatives from third sector organisations, and researchers from a variety of disciplines to build momentum towards a resolution of this issue.”

Participation in the roundtable is by invitation only with a larger public meeting due to be held at the Institute for Government in London in July.

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