Fitness to Plead and Core Competencies: Problems and Possibilities
31 Pages Posted: 16 May 2012 Last revised: 17 May 2012
Date Written: January 24, 2012
Written in the light of the Law Commission's Consultation Paper on Unfitness to Plead, this paper examines some of the core competencies that should underpin a test of unfitness to plead. It comprises three broad sections: (i) an examination of the current problems with unfitness and the foundational principles for a revised test, (ii) a description of the prevailing test of unfitness and of those that might be used to reformulate it, and (iii) an examination of the core competencies that would be required in an accused person to facilitate proper engagement with a criminal trial. An Appendix details some of the working criteria which emerged during the formulation of the psychiatric test currently under development by the Nuffield Foundation-funded research team.
Keywords: unfitness, trial procedures, decision-making capacity, psychiatric test, Law Commission CP no 197, Pritchard
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