Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Alex Louise Pearl

‘Calling the Shots: Support to Exercise Legal Capacity in Contractual and Financial Decision-Making for Adults with Learning Disabilities In England and the Implications of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008)’

Photo of Alex Louise Pearl

This research is inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Article 12 of the UN CRPD obliges governments to provide disabled people with access to the supports which will enable them to make their own legal capacity decisions (or decisions which have legal significance). Legal capacity is essential for making financial decisions and entering contractual agreements as it allow the law to recognise and validate the decision and transactions that a person makes. The ability to enter legal agreements is crucial in order to function in society. However, in England and Wales legal capacity can be removed if a person is found to lack decision-making ability (or mental capacity) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

This doctoral research project explores how leading organisations in England are currently supporting adults with learning disabilities to exercise legal capacity in financial and contractual matters within the current legal framework, and assesses the implications of the CRPD for the status quo. This socio-legal study combines doctrinal and empirical research of the law as posited, and its real-world operation. The research involves original data collection via focus-groups and qualitative interviews with both adults with learning disabilities and organisations involved in supporting or entering contractual and financial agreement with them. The research aims to be policy-relevant and to contribute to understandings and discussions of potential legislative reform in line with the requirements of the CRPD.

Alex has presented at numerous academic conferences on issues surrounding Legal Capacity, Article 12, Capability Theory, Personhood and Disability Rights both within the UK and beyond, including a Summer Institute on Disability Rights and Equality in Hong Kong (2015). She has also written on Article 12 Leeds Journal of Law and Criminology (2013), and is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the School of Law, leading seminars in both the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Law modules.

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