Book Review: “Adult Social Care Law”

Adult Social Care Law (Stephen Knafler QC, Legal Action Group, 2016, paperback and ebook £65)

Some years ago, he tells us in the introduction to Adult Social Care Law (LAG 2016), Stephen Knafler QC had an idea. He wanted to pull together a casebook from the pages of the Community Care Law Reports to cover the range of adult social care.  Rather a lot has happened since that initial thought, not least the passage of the Care Act 2014 and the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014, and his initially simple idea has grown and grown.  What must have turned into an enormous amount of work for him has paid off in spades for the rest of us.  By adding the extracts from key legislation and guidance to the case summaries, together with succinct overviews of the provisions, he has managed to pull together an incredibly useful resource for anyone practising in the area.  Across 29 chapters, covering the gamut of adult social care from “asylum seekers and overseas nationals” to “strategy, policy and changes” he has provided the relevant materials, and the relevant judicial commentaries upon those materials, to allow safe navigation through the ever more complex and choppy waters of this area.

Importantly, the author’s focus remains precisely on adult social care, so when he looks at other areas (for instance mental capacity law), he does so through the prism of the way in which the MCA 2005 and its provisions impacts upon adult social care law.   Throughout the book, the fruits of careful editorial decisions (including as to when to include the comments from the Community Care Law Headnotes to cases) shine through and reflect Stephen Knafler’s huge expertise in the area.   He also promises quarterly ebook updates which, if he delivers on this promise, will keep the book in prime position on the desk of anyone practising in the area.    I also hope that in such updates he might also reflect more fully the growing divergence of the law in Wales (I note, for instance, that the Welsh approach to safeguarding does not feature in the chapter on this issue), but this is really just a counsel of perfection.  And, if there is (as I very much hope there will) be a next edition, I wonder if I might tentatively suggest that it is not quite the shade of sombre black that the first edition appears in, resembling perhaps inadvertently the gravestone for adult social care provision which some might already think is in the process of being carved.

[Full disclosure: I am grateful to the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book. I am always happy to review works in or related to the field of mental capacity (broadly defined)]


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