Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Law Commission of England Consultation on Fitness to Stand Trial

The Law Commission of England has released a consultation paper with proposals for comprehensive reform of the law on unfitness to stand trial in England and Wales.

From the background on the project:

"Given the vulnerability of the mentally ill and the increasing frequency with which they are coming into contact with the criminal justice system, modern criminal law should be informed by modern science, and in particular by modern psychiatric thinking."

"The problems with the existing law on unfitness to plead are numerous. The current test for determining fitness to plead dates from 1836 when the science of psychiatry was in its infancy. The law developed in a piecemeal way and independently of developments under the European Convention on Human Rights on 'effective participation' as part of the right to a fair trial."

"The legal test for fitness to plead needs to be reconsidered and should be contrasted with the much wider test contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005."

"Other important questions to be answered include: what is the exact scope of a trial of the facts following a finding of unfitness to plead? What issues can be raised by the defendant, in particular 'defences' of accident, mistake and self-defence?"

"The project draws on relevant empirical evidence and comparative jurisdictions in an attempt to identify better and more up to date legal tests and rules for determining fitness to plead and the subsequent procedure for the examination of the facts."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:04 pm


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