Mental Health Disabilities and Access to Justice: Recognizing and Reinforcing Capacity


Chancellor Day Hall Stephen Scott Seminar Room (OCDH 16), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

A Global perspectives on disability, human rights and accessing justice seminar, organized by the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

This seminar is accredited for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education by the Quebec Bar (activity no. 10075399).


This seminar will explore Canadian and U.S. perspectives on the intersection of disability, mental health and access to justice. Recent decades have witnessed an evolution in the understanding between life circumstances, mental health and involvement with the law, and yet people with mental illnesses face significant obstacles in protecting their basic civil rights.  They also remain highly over-represented in the criminal justice system. The CRPD has contributed to the debate around mental illness and access to justice. In particular, the recognition of the legal capacity of persons with disabilities “on an equal basis with others” has important implications in relation to both criminal responsibility and civil rights.

This seminar will allow for a discussion of the legal and non-legal issues and challenges that exist at the nexus of mental disability, human rights, and access to justice.

Moderator: Derek J. Jones (CHRLP & Research Group on Health and Law)
Resource Persons: Robert Dinerstein (Professor, American University Washington College of Law), Emily Hazlett (Law Student Intern, Disability Rights International)

Suggested Reading and Video Resources

1) Milan Sýkora v. Czech Republic, European Court of Human Rights (see especially paras 100-13)

2) Dinerstein, Robert, "Implementing Legal Capacity Under Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The Difficult Road From Guardianship to Supported Decision-Making"
3) United Kingdom House of Lords, Select Committee on the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, Autumn 2013 Hearings (see especially minutes 12h00-12h20)
4) Australia, Victoria Office of Public Advocate, "Supported Decision-Making: Background and Discussion Paper" (see especially section 6.1)
Additional Resources
1) Nidus (British Columbia) Personal Planning Resource Centre Representation Agreements

2) Ontario Law Commission, Legal Capacity, Decision-Making and Guardianship Project
3) UK, Social Care in Excellence Teaching Videos on Mental Capacity and the Mental Capacity Act of 2005 (see especially "Social Care TV: Raymond's Money")
4) In the matter of Dameris L, Surrogate Court of New York, December 2012

5) Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, "Legal Capacity in Europe: A Call to Action to Governments and to the EU"

About the series

To explore some of the advances, challenges, and questions, the CHRLP is pleased to present its 2013-14 seminar series on selected issues of human rights and disability law. The series builds on the themes explored in the CHRLP’s successful 2012-13 seminar series, entitled “Disability, Human Rights and the Law.” We offer this series to continue to engage in one of the most compelling human rights issues of our day, consistent with the Faculty of Law’s tradition of analysis, scholarship and promotion of human rights and social justice. The events will follow the format of a teaching seminar and required resources will be circulated ahead of time.

Space is limited, so kindly RSVP to [at] to secure your spot. Lunch will be provided.


Contact Information

RSVP by November 1st to secure your spot and receive the reading materials
Email: [at]