One of the Essex Autonomy Project’s principal areas of work in recent years has been on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Contributing to an ongoing process of legal reform across the UK and around the world, the broad aim of which is to ensure respect for the rights of persons with disabilities, the work of the EAP has centered on compliance with the CRPD in the UK.
In 2014, members of the EAP team collaborated on a six-month research project in support of the UK Ministry of Justice review of whether the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is compliant with the CRPD. The culmination of this research was the Achieving CRPD Compliance report, published in September 2014.
The main findings of this report were that, despite the UK bring a signatory to the CRPD, the MCA is not fully compliant with its requirements. The report identified problems with the MCA definition of ‘mental incapacity’ and the best interests decision-making framework on which it relies. It also found that the CRPD is incorrect in its claim that compliance with the convention requires the abolition of substitute decision making and the best-interests decision-making framework.
In 2015 and 2016, members of the EAP team subsequently collaborated with other experts at Edinburgh Napier University, TC Young Solicitors, 39 Essex Chambers and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, on a more extensive, sixteen-month research project assessing the CRPD compliance of capacity/adult incapacity legislation in the three UK jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
This project produced a report, published in June 2016, assessing the progress being made across the three jurisdictions to achieve compliance, as well as series of briefing papers focusing on several aspects of CRPD compliance. In addition to providing technical research support to UK officials involved in the UN review of UK compliance with the UCRPD, and making recommendations in support of ongoing efforts across the UK to reform capacity legislation, the report also provides analysis that will be useful to those around the world who are involved in the reform of mental health and mental capacity legislation in accordance with the human rights requirements of the CRPD.
Professor Wayne Martin, EAP director, explains the importance of assessing compliance across all three jurisdictions:
The MCA applies only in England and Wales; this new project allowed us to undertake close study of the Adults with Incapacity Act in Scotland and the emerging legislation in Northern Ireland. The UK representative will need to report to the UN on progress towards CRPD-compliance in all three jurisdictions; our team will provide research support for that UN Engagement Process.
If you would like a hard copy of the Achieving CRPD Compliance report or the Three Jurisdictions report, or an emailed Word version, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the CRPD? Why is it important for mental capacity legislation?
This lecture by Professor Wayne Martin provides an overview of the history of CRPD, a review of the relevant procedures and authorities and a survey of the controversies that have surrounded this interface between international law, domestic legislation and the concrete realities of delivering care to persons whose decision-making abilities may be impaired by disabilities.