Book reviews: Care Act Manual (2nd edition) and Deprivation of Liberty: A Handbook

I have finally managed to find the time to review two books that have been provided to me:

Care Act Manual: 2nd edition: Tim Spencer-Lane (Sweet & Maxwell, 2015, paperback, £72)

In between trying to sort out the law relating to deprivation of liberty, Tim Spencer-Lane has done us all an enormous favour by updating his invaluable Care Act Manual.  He knows more about this topic than anyone else, having led the Law Commission project leading ultimately to the Care Act.   In the first edition of the book, published in 2014, he shared that knowledge with us at a time when we had yet to have the statutory guidance and most of the necessary secondary legislation.   The first edition, therefore, of necessity represented to some extent speculation as to what might happen, in circumstances where, as we all know, the devil is in the detail.

We now know much of the detail (not all of it good).   This second edition therefore includes expert commentary on the secondary legislation, as well as the statutory guidance (running, alone, to some 500 pages).  It is therefore a very much a book that is in every way much bigger than the last edition.  What the book loses in portability, however, it more than makes up for in the width and depth of its coverage of Part 1 of the Care Act, the relevant schedules, and the supporting apparatus.

As with the previous edition, the Manual does not seek to address the other parts of the Act, and to this extent the title is misleading.  However, for anyone who needs to grapple with the new regime for the provision of social services in England, this book is absolutely invaluable.

Deprivation of Liberty: A Handbook: HHJ Nasreen Pearce and DJ Sue Jackson (Jordan Publishing, 2015, £45; paperbook; ebook)

This timely book, published by Jordan’s, seeks to distil the substantive and procedural law relating to deprivation of liberty in the health and social care sectors down to manageable proportions (both in terms of complexity and in terms of length).   As to the latter, the handbook succeeds excellently – commentary, relevant statutory provisions, guidance and forms are all to be found in 250 pages (of which just over 100 pages represents commentary).   As to the former, the authors – a retired Circuit Judge and current District Judge – have succeeded in substantial part in pulling together the various complex threads in a clear and simple (but not simplistic) fashion.    They have, however, been somewhat hampered by the fast-moving pace of developments in the area; whilst they managed (just) to lever in the NRA decision of Charles J in September, they opined that it would be likely to be appealed, which has not happened; they were also unable to include coverage of the LF decision relating to deprivation of liberty in the ICU setting.   The law is therefore very much (and very clearly stated as being) as at September 2015.

With that caveat, though, the book stands as an extremely useful primer for those new to the area and, in particular, for lawyers needing to navigate their way around the provisions.   In terms of other professionals, I might respectfully suggest it could usefully be read alongside the Law Society’s Practical Guide to Deprivation of Liberty, which includes significantly greater coverage of what deprivation of liberty actually looks like on the ground.  It is perhaps only because I was so involved in this Guide that I regretted the absence of any mention of it in the book – notwithstanding the fact that it was commissioned by the Department of Health to stand as an informal update to Chapter 2 of the DOLS Code of Practice (which is also – perhaps curiously – also missing.

There are a couple of minor quibbles that I might have with some of the authors’ commentary (in particular, the comment at 6.5.4 as to new COP Rule 3A(1)(a)(e) is, with respect, just plain wrong: it is not a meaningless provision but is, rather, the provision that enables the COP to dispense with joining P in the vast majority of applications to it – i.e. uncontested property and affairs).   However, overall, and with the caveat that it will be necessary for those reading the book to ensure that they take steps to keep themselves updated as the law continues to involve, the authors are to be commended on an extremely useful introductory guide to this bewilderingly complex area of the law which fits well into the Jordan’s stable of practitioner texts.

[full disclosure: I am grateful to the author and publisher respectively for providing me with copies of these two works.  I am always happy to review works in the field of mental capacity (broadly defined)]

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