This chapter explores the connections between human rights law and the law in the UK as it applies to making decisions on behalf of vulnerable adults who are considered to have lost ‘capacity’ to make decisions for themselves. In this context, the term ‘vulnerable adults’ is quite wide-ranging so as to include people with mental health issues who are considered to pose a threat, either to themselves or other people. So, here the concern is not just with statutes concerning mental health and mental capacity, but also certain important common law principles that have historically allowed the courts to make decisions for other people when they consider this to be in their interests. Such common law provision claims long-standing historical pedigree, although, as will be seen, the European Court of Human Rights was not entirely happy with the way in which common law could be deployed in order to deprive people of their liberty.
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