Mental capacities and legal responsibilities, 7-8 April

Date published: 
Friday 14 February 2014

Mental capacities and legal responsibilities
Mon 7 - Tues 8 April 2014, Room 349, Sentate House, University of London

The aim of the conference is to bring together legal, clinical and philosophical perspectives on the complexities arising from a focus on mental incapacity in different parts of the one legal system. In England and Wales, the concept of mental incapacity currently plays a central role in private law, as a basis for restricting personal decision-making liberty. It is also increasingly a focus in the criminal law, as seen, for example, in recent reports from the Law Commission on unfitness to plead and the defences of insanity and automatism. At the same time, developments in international human rights law have called into question the use of mental incapacity as the basis for restrictions on liberty, and this raises a larger question about whether capacity-based tests are appropriate in any legal context. Could this kind of approach be justified in some contexts (for example in criminal defences) but not others (as grounds for forced treatment)? What moral or legal problems are raised by the increasing diversity of 'mental capacities', for example, the capacity to marry, to refuse medical treatment, to participate in criminal proceedings, and to be held responsible for a criminal act?

The conference is supported by the Wellcome Trust and hosted by the Institute of Philosophy.

UPDATE: The conference is now fully booked and registration is closed.

Organiser Dr Jillian Craigie at 

*The order of speakers of  may change

Monday 7th April

Light lunch from 12:00
1 – 2 Gwen Adshead, Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne “Capacity, agency and responsibility in homicide perpetrators”
2 – 3 Tony Holland, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge “The importance of judgement when determining decision-making capacity and best interests: who makes decisions under the MCA and how?”
Afternoon tea
3.30 – 4.30 John Stanton-Ife, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London “Mental capacities and legal responsibilities: a Unified Account?”
4.30 – 5.30 Jillian Craigie, Department of Philosophy, University College London “Mental capacities and legal personhood”

Tuesday 8th April

Tea/coffee from 9:00
9:30 – 10:30 Hanna Pickard Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, Oxford “Choice, deliberation, violence: questions of capacity and responsibility in personality disorder”
10:30 – 11:30 Jill Peay, Department of Law, London School of Economics “Mental incapacity and criminal liability: redrawing the fault lines?”
Morning tea
12:00 – 1:00 Penelope Brown, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London “Conceptualising Fitness to Plead”
1:00 – 1:30 Miranda Bevan, Criminal Law Team, Law Commission "Options for reforming the legal test for unfitness to plead"
2:15 – 3:15  Lucy Series, School of Law, Cardiff University "Relational considerations and legal capacity: Challenges for 'old' and 'new' paradigms"
3:15 – 4:15  Gareth Owen, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London "Fluctuating capacity and advanced decision-making – a psychiatric perspective"


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