These are the free resources I use most often:
Mental Health Law Online: a site run by Jonathan Wilson that is about much more than mental health law. It has pretty much all the primary and secondary legislation relating to both mental health and mental capacity law in England and Wales, together with statutory guidance and transcripts of hundreds of cases related to both fields of the law – if the transcript of a case is not available here it is probably not available anywhere.
British and Irish Legal Information Institute: this hosts transcripts of decisions from a range of courts including, increasingly, the Court of Protection. I have included the RSS feed from this site for all decisions that it publishes relating to mental capacity (nb, this goes quite substantially wider than just cases decided in the Court of Protection).
COPCasesonline: this is the database of the case comments that we have produced over the years for purposes of our Mental Capacity Law Report (the most recent issue of which can always be found by following the link on this page). I do, genuinely, use this site on an almost daily basis.
Community Care: this online only (free) news service is extremely useful for providing insights into mental capacity law from the social services perspective. It is possible to subscribe to a daily email service.
Local Government Lawyer: I make use of this online only (free) news service not just because it carries stories from our newsletter, but also because it’s very helpful for ensuring that I am aware of wider developments in the local government field. A very useful weekly newsletter service is available.
SCIE: the website of the Social Care Institute for Excellence includes a number of really important and useful resources, in particular the directory of online MCA resources, the sub-site for the National Mental Capacity Forum, and this sub-site devoted to the Care Act (including guidance on powers of entry in cases of suspected abuse and neglect).
The Local Government Ombudsman website contains, in particular, reports into investigations conducted into maladministration by local authorities – and, sadly, some true horror stories in relation to the (non)application of the MCA 2005. It is possible to sign up for weekly emails.
Other useful resources
The MCA/DOLS online resource (and knowledge-check) launched in 2017 by the Medical Protection Society in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and NHS England, aimed at medical professionals. The resource, to which I contributed, requires registration, but is free.
The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice has produced a series of brief guides to help all health and social care professionals navigate through and apply the principles of the Mental Capacity Act for decisions regarding treatment and care.
Browne Jacobson solicitors do a quarterly case-law update webinar focusing on the MCA 2005 and DOLS, with accompanying resources.
The GMC maintains a learning disabilities resource which is aimed at doctors, but which is actually of far greater use – it is, in particular, rammed to the gills with useful techniques to enable effective communications with those with learning disabilities.
The Advocates Gateway provides practical, evidence-based guidance on vulnerable witnesses and defendants. It is particularly useful in terms of the clear guidance that it gives in relation to questioning those with different categories of disorders or disabilities, emphasising the need to understand the nature of the particular challenges that are posed in relation to each category (and, of course, in relation to each specific individual).
Compassion in Dying maintains a website which contains a host of useful information about the difficult, but to my mind extremely important issue of securing – as best as possible – your right to make choices at the end of your life. You can download an extremely good template to generate your own advance decision to refuse medical treatment (and to see why you would be well advised to, you need only read the case of W v M).
My colleague in Chambers, Tor Butler-Cole, has set up an extremely helpful guide to the Court of Protection aimed at litigants in person – a resource which I highly recommend for anyone unfamiliar with the acres of jargon that clutter up a jurisdiction that is supposedly intended to be user-friendly.
Under the auspices of Phil Fennell and Lucy Series, Cardiff Law School did some much-needed work to examine how the Court of Protection actually works when it comes to making decisions relating to health and welfare (full disclosure: I was on the advisory group). To accompany the project, and also to fulfil their remit of improving public knowledge of the Court, the team have set up a site which has a host of useful resources about the CoP and the MCA 2005.
The Essex Autonomy Project is a research and knowledge-exchange initiative based in the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex, under the auspices of Wayne Martin. The site includes some extremely thought-provoking resources upon the real meaning of autonomy in the context of mental capacity law.
I would also recommend the site of the Centre for Mental Health Capacity Law, an initiative directed by Jill Stavert at Edinburgh Napier University. As this project continues to develop, it will serve as an extremely useful resource for the promotion of cross-disciplinary conversations in Scotland and – I would hope – insights for practitioners in England and Wales from an ‘advanced’ jurisdiction that takes in some ways a radically different approach to mental capacity law.
Validity (formerly the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre) is an organisation that does astonishing work in a range of settings up to and including before the European Court of Human Rights in promoting the rights of those with learning disabilities and mental illness in Eastern Europe, and their site has a very useful collection of resources on European and international law and norms.
The Coma and Diseases of Consciousness Centre, led by Professors Jenny and Celia Kitzinger, is the project of a multi-disciplinary group of researchers exploring the cultural, ethical, legal, social and historical dimensions of prolonged disorders of consciousness: coma, the vegetative and the minimally conscious state. Amongst the really important and useful resources on their site is an online resource for family members of those in vegetative and minimally conscious states, which is just as helpful for legal and clinical practitioners.
The Small Places: this wonderful blog is written by Lucy Series, a research associate at Cardiff Law School, who is extraordinary in her ability to ferret out information about cases and developments more generally in the mental capacity field, and always brings a real degree of insight and humanity to her posts.
Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law: this occasionally infrequent but always extremely stimulating blog is maintained by the School of Law at Nottingham University, with contributions most often from Nell Munro.
Love, belief and balls: this blog is written by Mark Neary, whose fight on behalf of his son Stephen created legal history, but – sadly – continues to this day. It is funny, frustrated and always passionate: if for no other reason than for its skewering of jargon it is essential reading for anyone who works in the field of mental capacity law and policy.
UK Human Rights: this blog maintained by 1 Crown Office Row Chambers covers a much wider gamut of subject matter than purely mental capacity matters, but is useful for keeping an eye on wider developments of relevance.
A blog set up in connection with the MSc in Mental Health, Ethics and Law at King’s College London (which I co-lead).
Contrast collectif: a blog (partly in French and partly in English) detailing research projects between collaborators in sociology, law and philosophy sharing a common research interest in the new regulations of mental health care practices, especially regarding the use of constraint.
The Mental Elf is an excellent website to help keep up-to-date with all of the important and reliable mental health research and guidance.
I have created a special page dedicated to resources relating to the decision of the Supreme Court in Cheshire West.
Please free to suggest further resources that you have found particularly useful – especially those which might not be known outside your own specific discipline but which (as with the GMC’s learning disability resource) others involved with those lacking mental capacity should know about.