Summer School 2020

Ten Years of the Autonomy Project

The 2020 Autonomy Summer School took place on 20th-24th July online, with sessions running for 2 hours each day, and optional additional sessions to facilitate discussion. It combined keynote addresses, panel discussions, and work on case study materials.

About Summer School 2019

2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the Autonomy Project. To mark the occasion, we welcomed back a number of veterans of past Autonomy Project Summer Schools. One alumnus of the very first iteration of the Summer School was recently elected to Parliament as the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge. He returned to help us think about strategies for law reform, particularly about the prospects and obstacles for so-called “Fusion Law” — the legislative approach which synthesises the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act. Another alum is the founder of SDM-Japan, and will be part of a panel that provides an update on international efforts to establish programmes of Supported Decision-Making (SDM) — a strategy for achieving compliance with the United Nations Convention of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As always, we also did some philosophy. We had a session on personal identity in the context of care, another on the idea of respect for the will, and a third in which we explored the phenomenon known as juridification — the process whereby human practices (including care practices) are increasingly subject to strict legal rules and regulations. We concluded with an update on the most recent EAP research findings, including a preview of findings from our pioneering study of clinical decision-making, insight, and human rights.

The Speakers

Ben Spencer

MP for Runnymede and Weybridge

Ben worked as a Psychiatrist in the NHS for 10 years, before being elected to Parliament in 2019 as MP for Runnymede and Weybridge.

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He was an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), Kings College London, where he wrote his dissertation on capacity for consent to participate in research. He also has particular expertise in old-age psychiatry and insight. His current interests include the prospects for fusing the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.

Toshihiko Mizushima

Japan Legal Support Centre

Toshi has devoted a significant portion of his career to civil law with a specific research interest in the Adult Guardians Law.

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His legal social work activities as a staff attorney at Japan Legal Support Center (JLSC), such as establishing an advocacy center in conjunction with relevant organisations in such field, have had a great impact on local authorities, welfare agencies and lawyers in Japan. 

Toshi is a research fellow at the University of Essex in the field of “Mental Capacity Act 2005,” including the issue of supported decision-making for persons with disabilities. He established the Japan Network of Supported Decision-Making (“SDM-Japan”) supported by University of Tsukuba and the Nippon Foundation. Since 2018, he has been engaging to make the SDM guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and its training programmes, as a team leader of the section of supported decision-making and adult guardianship in Japanese Law Society (JFBA) and a member of the state-sponsored expert committee covering issues of adult guardianship in Japan. In September 2022, the CRPD Committee published concluding observation for Japan. Based on the recommendations, he is working with the local government, the Nippon Foundation and SDM-Japan to launch the Supported Decision-Making Project in Toyota City with the aim of establishing a sustainable SDM system that could replace the adult guardianship system.

Karen Chumbley

St Helena Hospice

Karen is a General Practitioner and is also the Deputy CEO and Clinical Director at St Helena Hospice.

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Karen is the clinical lead for end of life care for the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance and as part of this role is the clinical lead for the My Care Choices register, a local electronic palliative care co-ordination system. Since 2018 Karen has been working with the Oxford Centre for Triple Value Healthcare establishing a population based approach to end of life care.

Tania Gergel

Mental Health and Justice Project

Tania is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow with the Mental Health and Justice research project, where her work focuses on advance directives in bipolar disorder, as well as working with the McPin Foundation to coordinate patient and public involvement. 

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Although Tania’s academic background was in ancient philosophy, her research now focuses on mental health, ethics and law / philosophy of medicine, with areas of interest including: advance decision-making and decision making-capacity; the ethics of coercion and leverage within psychiatry; personal identity and mental disorder; and stigma.

Alex Ruck Keene

39 Essex Chambers and Kings College London

Alex is an experienced barrister, writer and educator. His practice is focused on mental capacity law (broadly defined) in which he is able to provide specialist advice and representation. 

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He also writes extensively in the field, editing and contributing to leading textbooks and (amongst many other publications) the 39 Essex Chambers Mental Capacity Law Newsletter, the ‘bible’ for solicitors (and others) working in the area. Alex is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow and a Visiting Professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London. He served as consultant to the Law Commission in their review of the deprivation of liberty safeguards and as legal counsel to the Wessely Review of the Mental Health Act.

George Szmukler

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London

George is a Psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the IoPPN, Kings College London. His research focuses on strategies for reducing compulsion and coercion in psychiatric care.

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A key interest is mental health law reform, particularly the development of non-discriminatory, generic legislation which would apply to all persons, regardless of the cause of the underlying disturbance of treatment decision-making. Past posts have included Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2001-2006); Medical Director of the Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust (1997-1999), then joint Medical Director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (1999-2001); Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics (2005-2014); Associate Director of the NIHR Mental Health Research Network, with lead responsibility for Patient and Public Involvement in research (2007-2015). His most recent book, Men in White Coats, discusses involuntary treatment in the context of human rights.

About the Autonomy Project

The Essex Autonomy Project is a research and public policy initiative, based at the University of Essex, and investigating the ideal of self-determination (autonomy) in the context of care (health care, social care, eldercare, psychiatric care, etc.)

Led by Professor of Philosophy, Wayne Martin, it involves extensive intramural and extramural collaboration with jurists, clinicians, service users, activists, civil servants, and policy makers. It is affiliated with the award-winning Essex Human Rights Centre.