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Mental health and the Human Rights Act: the story so far

By Simon Foster, MIND

17 May 2001

Mental health and the Human Rights Act: the story so far

By Simon Foster, MIND

Before the Human Rights Act came into force in October 2000, many of those who contacted Mind believed that it would be capable of rectifying all their complaints against the existing 1983 Mental Health Act (MHA). Having studied the Strasbourg jurisprudence we were rather more tentative- rightly so, if the first six months of the new regime is anything to go by. Judges have made it clear that they will be impatient with applicants citing European Convention points when there is no triable issue. Moreover, as the first decided cases in mental health seem to indicate, they are unwilling to find legislation incompatible with the Convention rights unless they have absolutely no alternative (see below). This is disappointing, considering the manifest shortcomings in the Mental Health Act agreed by the Government in its recent White Paper, but not surprising. ...

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