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    The ‘human element’ in the social space of the courtroom: framing and shaping the deliberative process in mental capacity law

    Kong, Camillia and Stickler, Rebecca and Cooper, Penny and Watkins, M. and Dunn, M. (2022) The ‘human element’ in the social space of the courtroom: framing and shaping the deliberative process in mental capacity law. Legal Studies 42 (4), pp. 715-734. ISSN 0261-3875.

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    The context- and person-specific nature of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) in England and Wales means inherent indeterminacy characterises decision-making in the Court of Protection (CoP), not least regarding conflicting values and the weight that should be accorded to competing factors. This paper explores how legal professionals frame and influence the MCA’s deliberative and adjudicative processes in the social space of the courtroom through a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with legal practitioners specialising in mental capacity law and retired judges from the CoP and the Courts of Appeal with specific experience of adjudicating mental capacity disputes. The concept of the ‘human element’ offers important new insight into how legal professionals perform their roles and justify their activities in the conduct of legal proceedings. The ‘human element’ takes effect in two ways: first, it operates as an overarching normative prism that accounts for what good practice demands of legal professionals in mental capacity law; second, it explains how these professionals orientate these norms in the day-to-day conduct of their work. The ‘human element’ further presents challenges that demand practical negotiation in relation to countervailing normative commitments to objectivity and socio-institutional expectations around professional hierarchies, expertise, and evidential thresholds.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Law School
    Depositing User: Camillia Kong
    Date Deposited: 30 May 2022 14:40
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:16


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