Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Masters in Law to the Technological University Dublin, 2011


This thesis examines the issue of legal capacity in the context of existing and proposed mental health legislation in Ireland from a human rights perspective. Its primary focus is to access whether certain recent proposed reforms to Ireland’s existing mental health legislation will meet the relevant prevailing international human rights standards, namely the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the “CRPD”).

In particular, it includes a critical review of the proposed legislative reforms in the area of legal capacity in a mental health context. In summary, the main reforms are contained within the Scheme of Mental Capacity Bill which was published in 2008 (hereinafter referred to as the “2008 Scheme”) and the recently published Advanced Healthcare Decisions Bill 2010 (hereinafter referred to as the “2010 Bill”) which specifically focuses on the contentious area of advanced decisions (also known as advance directives or advance care directives). Following on from this review, the thesis highlights comments on some of the potential human rights violations that could arise if the aforementioned 2008 Scheme and 2010 Bill were implemented into Irish law without making consequential amendments to the main existing legislation in Ireland governing capacity in a mental health context, namely the Mental Health Act, 2001.

Finally, this thesis seeks to identify and consolidate the implications these issues will have for the Irish Government with respect to its obligations under the CRPD. It also considers the implications the enactment of the aforementioned proposed legislation may have on the most vulnerable people in our society.