Lesley Myers her thoughts on the transition from IMCA to Peter Edwards Law

I joined The Civil Litigation Department at Peter Edwards Law in January 2015 and am glad to say that I am  already enjoying being part of a team that are all working hard to represent people living with or caring for someone with a disability or illness that affects their ability to make decisions. Although I am new to this role,

I have been made to feel welcome and guided through the complexities of legal aid, legal jargon and the dreaded time sheets by the Civil Litigation Team and all others working at PEL which has made my first few weeks much easier.

Prior to joining PEL I worked as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA), a role that provided me with detailed knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, in particular, the Deprivation of liberty safeguards. Working as an IMCA before and after the Supreme Court Ruling on 19/03/14 (“P v Cheshire West and Chester Council and another” and “P and Q v Surrey County Council”) gave me valuable insight into how important this ruling was to promote first and foremost the wellbeing of adults who may fall under the criteria of Dols; but also to preserve their rights to challenge decisions made about them irrespective of the fact that they are seemingly unaffected by or compliant with measures that amount to a deprivation of their liberty.

However, I was also able to see how the increase in applications from Managing Authorities to Supervisory Bodies put an enormous strain on the system which looks set to continue and the affect that the ruling will have on cases that need to go to the Court of Protection because they do not meet the criteria for administrative Deprivations of liberty, for instance, those cases concerning people living in their own homes or in supported living.

There have been some strides in trying to streamline the processes in Re X (Deprivation of Liberty) (No 2) (2014) EWCOP 37, (2014) MHLO 98 and new Dols forms were issued via ADASS to Dols/MCA Leads across the country in January 2015 reducing the number of Dols forms from 32 to 13 in an attempt to make the process easier.

Before this ruling, there were cases wherein it was ‘debatable’ whether the restrictions placed upon an individual amounted to a deprivation of their liberty, or instead were what were termed ‘proportionate restrictions’ needed to provide care and treatment, and/or to keep a person safe from harm. With hindsight,  ‘proportionate restrictions’ resulting in no Standard Authorisation being given were tantamount to  throwing the baby out with the bath water and ultimately denied people who were not free to leave and under continuous supervision and control, the safeguards provided under Dols for their situation to be reviewed and challenged.

During my work as an IMCA, I worked on a number of cases in the Court of Protection various members of Peter Edwards Law and other solicitors, both as IMCA and also Litigation Friend. This enabled me to see the workings of the Court and provided me with a desire to work as part of an organisation whose main aim is to uphold the rights of vulnerable people and represent them while they seek justice. I am grateful for being given this opportunity and look forward to being able to do this in my new role at Peter Edwards Law.

I also worked in a small charitable mental health resource centre for many years starting as an Arts and Crafts instructor and ending as Manager. This job provided me with first-hand experience of working with people with mental health problems and the ways in which these impacted on their lives.  It has always been my passion to stand up for people and help them to stand up for themselves.

Outside of work I love travelling to see friends and family in Cumbria and Scotland, reading, cooking and going to concerts. I also follow the travels of my daughter who has spent the last year going round the world working on a cruise ship and spend many weekends acting as roadie for my son’s band.