Alex Ruck Keene, 'Mental Health Law Online (review)' (2013) Eld LJ 216
This is a review of Mental Health Law Online which originally appeared in the Elder Law Journal in 2013.
This review originally appeared in the Elder Law Journal, and is reproduced by kind permission.
Internet resource; Email and Kindle updates; Email discussion list;Twitter feed; CPD scheme
For those who have discovered it, the website www.mentalhealthlaw.co.uk will no doubt have already been added to the bookmarks on their homepage. For those who have yet to do so, I would strongly recommend that they remedy this, as the site is an invaluable resource for all those working in the field of mental health and mental capacity law. Indeed, if I had a criticism of this site, it would be that its name undersells it: whilst it was started in April 2006 (as Wiki Mental Health) to cover the mental health field, it has now expanded to cover mental capacity law as well, and it is equally – if not more – valuable in that regard, not least given the historically notorious difficulties in obtaining judgments made by the Court of Protection.
The website is run by a practising solicitor, Jonathan Wilson, as (it seems) a labour of love. It includes a number of resources: those which I use the most are the full text of (or links to) the relevant primary and secondary legislation, as well as the searchable and comprehensive database of (currently 1,355) cases from all levels of tribunals and courts in which the Mental Health Act 1983 and/or the Mental Capacity Act 2005 have been considered.
Wherever a transcript is publicly available, the database includes either the transcript or a link to the relevant site (for instance BAILII); in all cases, it includes a concise and (as far as I can tell) accurate summary. It is perhaps worth highlighting that the site frequently includes transcripts which cannot be found anywhere else, provided by legal representatives involved in the relevant case.
In keeping with the ‘wiki’ ethos of the site, contributions can be made by anyone and, in a relatively recent innovation, a discussion list/forum has been established where practitioners from all disciplines can post queries and/or comments. The quality of the debates and the range of contributors are both noteworthy, and it is refreshing to see the collaborative nature of the exchanges as practitioners seek to work through some of the most difficult practical problems which arise on the ground in both the mental health and mental capacity fields. To this end, it is particularly useful that the main site includes the archive of the discussion posts (available only to members of the list).
The site includes links to other relevant websites and blogs in the mental health/capacity fields. It also offers a plethora of updates, including by way of email and Twitter feed (including re-tweeting of relevant tweets from other sources, often prior to their incorporation into the main page). The monthly updates are available in both PDF and Kindle format, and in a new development, an annual review containing a thematic listing of all news and cases which appeared in the monthly updates can now be purchased in either paperback or Kindle format. Finally, the website offers a CPD scheme by which, for the very reasonable price of £60, 12 accredited CPD points can be obtained by answering monthly multi-choice tests, predominantly in the field of mental health law. This is the only part of the site for which any charge is made – but given the quality and extent of its content, readers may well feel that a donation is in order to secure its future.
ALEX RUCK KEENEBarrister, 39 Essex Street