Report: Unfitness to plead

January 2016. Adapted launch notes:

The Law Commission has published its report on unfitness to plead, Law Commission Report No 364. The report, draft Bill and all other related documents can be downloaded from the page relating to the project on their website here.

This project forms part of the Commission’s Tenth Programme of Law Reform. They published a consultation paper in October 2010 which asked questions and advanced provisional proposals regarding reform of the test and the procedure for unfitness to plead in England and Wales. The Law Commission received 55 written submissions from consultees in response. Those responses endorsed many aspects of our provisional proposals. They also raised fresh issues arising both out of the provisional proposals and in relation to the operation of aspects of the current law on unfitness to plead which consultees considered to be problematic.

The Law Commission then published an Issues Paper in May 2014. This document invited consultees to respond to a series of further questions which sought to refine the original proposals and set out a more detailed framework for reform in the newer areas identified by consultees. There were 45 responses to the Issues Paper from a wide range of stakeholders. The majority were in favour of the proposals in the Issues Paper.

The project also benefited from views expressed at conferences and specialist seminars, as well as from meetings with judges, legal practitioners, leading academics, clinicians, non-governmental organisations and members of interested government departments.

The recommendations made in the report have therefore been refined by an iterative consultation process. The policy has been honed specifically to respond to the reduction of funding within the criminal justice system and the changing approach to vulnerability in the court system. The approach that we recommend has broad support from an extremely wide range of consultees.

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