The Legal Capacity Research website was founded in 2017 to support the Everyday Decisions research project, led by Professor Rosie Harding and funded by the British Academy. Since then, the site has hosted information about a series of interlinked research projects led by Prof Harding, including the Supported-Will Making follow-up study, the CLARiTY Project and, our exciting new piece of work: Co-Producing Accessible Legal Information (Co-ALItion).
Co-Producing Accessible Legal Information (Co-ALItion)
The Co-ALItion project will bring together a co-production group of people with learning disabilities and legal professionals to work together to make law more accessible. We are currently looking for disabled people and legal professionals to join our co-production group. Follow the links for more information about how to volunteer.
Investigating legal capacity and mental capacity in everyday life
The Everday Decisions Project explored how disabled people experience making everyday legally relevant choices, and how they are supported to do so by care professionals, personal assistants and family supporters. The key finding from this project was that even though disabled people are often well supported to make everyday choices, there is not enough support for more complicated legal decisions.
You can explore the findings from the Everyday Decisions project through our Project Report, and our Easy Read Report. We have also published several academic articles drawing on this work and lots of Blog Posts that draw on the Everyday Decisions work.
How could disabled people be better supported to make their will?
The Supported Will-Making Project built on the Everyday Decisions research, but was interested in one very specific form of legal decision-making: how to make a will. Wills are really important legal documents, because they are used to decide what happens to your property and money after you die. Through this ESRC Impact Acceleration Account funded project, we found out that disabled people often don’t have enough support to make their will, and that their testamentary choices are often different from those of non-disabled people which means that the default rules about what would happen after they die (the rules about intestate succession) might not meet their needs. The Law Commission of England and Wales are currently looking at reforming the law about wills, and will take into account our findings from this project.
The CLARiTY Project
Making Law more Accessible during COVID-19
CLARiTY stands for Capacity Law and Rights Information to You. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, it was often very difficult for disabled people and family carers to know what they were allowed to do. Easy read information about the rules was often not available until after the law had changed, and people were prevented from visiting family and friends who lived in care homes and supported living.
CLARiTY sessions were aimed at people with learning disabilities, autistic people, people with brain injuries, dementia or other cognitive impairments and family carers. CLARITY sessions took place using Zoom, were free, and open to all. The aim of the sessions was to give clear, accessible information about capacity law and rights, on topics that were important to disabled people during the COVID-19 crisis. We talked about lockdown rules, visiting rights, and various aspects of mental capacity law.
You can find out more about all of these research projects by clicking on the links above, or by exploring our research findings, and academic publications from our research on this website. You can find out about members of the research team, and read our blog posts about capacity in law and society. We sometimes host guest blogs, if you’d like to contribute, please contact us.
The original Everyday Decisions research project was funded by the British Academy and has ethical approval from the University of Birmingham Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee.
The supported will-making follow up study was funded by the University of Birmingham ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, and has ethical approval from the University of Birmingham Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee.
Since September 2018, ongoing work relating to the Everyday Decisions project and the supported will-making follow-up study has been funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust.
All of this work has also been supported, both in kind and with financial contributions, by the University of Birmingham.