I assume most people reading this blog have more than a passing interest in mental capacity law, so I thought I'd draw to readers' attention three interesting looking upcoming conferences [Edit: and a seminar I've just heard about]. I wish I could attend them all...
Cardiff Law School's annual 'Taking Stock' conference - 14 October, Manchester
This conference has run annually for some years now, and looks at changes in mental health, mental capacity and some social care law. It's run by the widely respected Cardiff Law School, who have a Centre for Health and Social Care Law. Speaking at the event will be Cardiff's own Professors Phil Fennell and Luke Clements (author of 'the Bible' for social care lawyers - new edition rumoured to be out this autumn). Also speaking will be Angela Downing, Kirsty Keywood and Neil Allen from Manchester University, Genevra Richardson from King's College London, Yogi Amin from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and - somewhat surprisingly, Ruby Wax! Bit of a change from last year where the 'celebrity' speaker was Lord Justice Munby, but I'm sure with Wax's background in campaigning against the stigma of mental illness she should have something interesting to say. Topics discussed include lawful restraint under the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act (possibly discussing these recent rulings?), the s44 MCA crime of wilful neglect or ill-treatment, press freedoms and the Mental Capacity Act, adult safeguarding and the aftermath of the controversial ruling in McDonald v Kensington and Chelsea. Reading that list makes me really wish I could go...
I attended last year and learned a lot, although the conference is very big so it can be harder to ask questions of speakers (they had a fantastic system of asking people to write down their questions, which definitely led to less waffly question asking and more considered answers). There were loads of AMHP's last year, so I had lots of interesting chats at lunchtime. I've put the flier Google Docs here. The price of the conference is £155 for the day, but £135 if you book before August 15th.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005: An Annual Review - 20th October 2011, York
This conference is put on by Langley's solicitors, who do a lot of Court of Protection work. As you'd probably expect from a conference organised by a legal firm, this conference has fewer academics and more practising lawyers. Lord Justice Munby is 'headlining', and will be talking about the future of the Court of Protection - I wonder if he'll discuss the 'perennial' problem of resources? Her Honour Judge Moir and District Judge Goudie will also be speaking. I would be especially keen to see talks by Alistair Pitblado, the Official Solicitor and barristers Amy Street, Tim Spain, Joseph O’Brien and Robert Sherman - having only encountered their work in judgments. The conference will also be addressed by psychiatrist Dr David Milnes, and independent social workers Diane Sugden and Jeff Fowler. Topics covered include case law developments; assessing the best interests of older people; assessing capacity to marry, capacity to consent to sexual relations and undue influence; publicity in the Court of Protection; safeguarding and assessing risk in families; deprivation of liberty; and mediation and cost control in the Court of Protection. It looks like there should be plenty of interesting discussions to be had there!
The conference is also a one day event and costs £114, I've put the flier up here. It looks like a really informative day, with some of the most important figures in Court of Protection work today speaking.
Was Autonomy the Wrong Ideal? - 30 September - 1 October, London
This conference is organised by the fantastic Essex Autonomy Project, based in the Department of Philosophy at Essex University. At base, issues of capacity and consent are issues of autonomy, and the Essex Autonomy Project has been doing great work bringing together practitioners from law, medicine and social work with philosophers to explore the philosophical underpinnings and implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. They've got several other events so it's worth checking out their site. This conference throws down the gauntlet to Western philosophy by asking whether autonomy is an appropriate ideal in human affairs. Speakers include Lorraine Code, Peter Dews, Mark Fisher (aka K-Punk), Charles Foster, Béatrice Han-Pile, Sean Kelly and Eddy Nahmias. The event is free, but places will almost certainly fill up fast so book online here.
I think it looks set to be a fascinating discussion. I'm geekily excited that Mark Fisher will be speaking as a longtime reader of his blog. It does look set to be a pretty hardcore philosophy event though; if you're not familiar with the philosophy of autonomy you couldn't do better as a jumping in point than these entries from the fantastic Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Personal Autonomy, Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy, and Paternalism.
Seminar: 'Defining community care needs and assessments after McDonald', 19th July, London
The Legal Action Group are hosting a free seminar on the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v Kensington and Chelsea. The event will be held at Doughty Street Chambers and will be chaired by barrister Paul Bowen. Stephen Cragg, who was counsel for Ms McDonald will be speaking, as will Alex Rook from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and Stephen Lowe from Age UK. It promises to be a very interesting evening, with some great speakers. If you're a practising lawyer, you can get 1.5 CDP points for attending. You can find more details of the event here. I wish I could head along to it, but London is a long way for an evening... Perhaps some of the delegates might like to write a paper on the ruling? You can read my thoughts on McDonald v Kensington and Chelsea here.