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Law and Mental Health in Canada: Cases and Materials

Examining both civil and criminal justice contexts in which mental health law is practised, this casebook is a complete guide for law students, articling students and new lawyers or lawyers newly interested in practising any aspect of mental health law.

Publication Language: English

Softcover | 612 pages

In Stock
Published: December 29, 2022
ISBN/ISSN: 9780433525165

Product description

"This comprehensive text provides practical guidance for lawyers practicing mental health law, covering many related topics. The text includes an entire chapter devoted to advocacy tools, trauma-informed lawyering, empathy, and increasing access to justice, as well as a separate section on practice issues for lawyers regarding fitness to stand trial...Law and Mental Health in Canada: Cases and Materials will undoubtedly be helpful for those teaching and taking courses related to mental health law, as well as lawyers beginning to practice in this area."

Reviewed by Melanie R. Bueckert, Legal Research Counsel
Manitoba Court of Appeal

See Review in 2023 Canadian Law Library Review 48:3 (pages 23)

“This foundational text helps demystify the Canadian legal mental health system.… Each chapter of the book deals with an integral part of the regime and the volume proceeds in a sequence that makes the legal mental health system easy to understand. This well-written, user-friendly guidebook will be of assistance to practitioners, academics, law students and judges.”
– From the First Foreword by The Honourable Michelle O’Bonsawin, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

“People with mental health issues continue to experience multiple legal barriers when interacting with the legal system. This book rises to the challenge of addressing the experiences of those with mental health issues and assists in navigating an increasingly challenging socially contextual legal cycle.… [T]his is a handbook that will be a gamechanger for those who want to understand the issues facing those with mental health issues who come into conflict with the law, and those who work with them in the legal system.”
– From the Second Foreword by The Honourable Judge Michelle D. Stanford, Provincial Court of British Columbia


Law and Mental Health in Canada: Cases and Materials addresses important aspects of both individual and systemic advocacy on behalf of individuals with serious mental health issues. It surveys the field in all respects, addressing civil mental health legislation across Canada; the mental disorder provisions in the Criminal Code; other areas of criminal law where mental health is an issue; the representation of Indigenous clients with psychiatric histories; and Coroner’s Inquests into the deaths of persons in crisis at the hands of police and in institutional settings.

The book includes a special chapter on representing persons with serious mental health issues, as counsel or court-appointed amicus curiae, in all manner of legal proceedings. An anti-racist, anti-colonial and intersectional approach is also employed throughout. Trauma-informed and empathic representation is emphasized. This book also compiles every leading case and references to commentary that inform debate and thoughtful exploration of the key issues in this area of law. It offers an overview of the broad range of legal issues that arise in the real-life practice of mental health law.

Law and Mental Health in Canada: Cases and Materials is the product of a special team of Canadian authors with wide-ranging backgrounds from across the nation. The experience seasoned practitioners of mental health law bring to the knowledge and teaching expertise of the academics in the author group, together with the lived experiences of those who contributed content, all serve to enrich the book. It includes the insights of both lawyers and non-lawyer advocates to maximize the wealth of litigation and lived experience.

Who Should Read This Book

  • Crown Counsel who appear in criminal court and encounter fitness or criminal responsibility issues
  • Defence Counsel who represent accused persons with serious mental health issues before the Courts or at the Review Board
  • Wills and estates lawyers who advise on power of attorney or consent and capacity issues
  • Health lawyers who represent parties before the courts in consent and capacity matters or represent the officers in charge of Psychiatric Facilities that detain or supervise the accused
  • Judges who hear fitness or NCR matters or determine capacity issues in guardianship applications
  • Hospitals and psychiatric facilities whose officers in charge need to know their duties and obligations under the Mental Health Act and Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code
  • Consent and Capacity Board members who are called upon to determine issues of involuntary committal and capacity
  • Doctors, psychiatrists, physicians, forensic consultants, and other mental health professionals who assess patients for treatment capacity or may be called as witnesses at Review Board hearings
  • Community mental health agencies who provide care and supervision to persons subject to Review Board jurisdiction
  • Law professors and law students enrolled in studies with course material in Canadian mental health law

General Editors & Authors
Anita Szigeti and Ruby Dhand

Contributors to the volume include Jennifer Chambers, Cassandra DeMelo, Carter Martell, Jacqueline Petrie, Sarah Rankin, Naomi Sayers, and Amy Shoemaker.

Media Resources


Product reviews

Comprehensive information and analysis on all aspects of mental health law
by Jeff Marshman, from the book review in For The Defence, Volume 42 No. 4 (November 2022)

Led by Dr. Ruby Dhand and well-known expert in the field, Anita Szigeti, the team of authors undertake the Herculean task of clarifying, critiquing, and illuminating the various heads of the hydra that is mental health law in Canada. With contributions from authors from across the country (Jennifer Chambers, Cassandra DeMelo, Carter Martell, Jacqueline Petrie, Sarah Rankin, Naomi Sayers, and Amy Shoemaker) this text provides the reader with comprehensive information and analysis on all aspects of mental health law. It covers specific legal and ethical issues as well as the blackletter law that is of immediate interest to practitioners. It covers the evolution of the law and underlying policies that continue to inform decision-making at a judicial and legislative level. It does so while deftly avoiding the pitfalls of similarly broad endeavours – ensuring that substantive content and in-depth analysis don’t come at the expense of clarity or accessibility.… Law and Mental Health: Cases and Materials is an ambitious text that manages to achieve its lofty aims. It will serve as a valuable resource for working professionals and students alike.

Featured Authors

Table of contents

Chapter 1 – Foundational Issues in Mental Health Law: Lived Experience, Access to Justice and Intersectionality

Chapter 2 – Civil Mental Health Law: Legal Concepts and Policy Considerations

Chapter 3 – Civil Commitment

Chapter 4 – Consent to Treatment

Chapter 5 – Guardianship and Powers of Attorney

Chapter 6 – Personal Health Information Protection

Chapter 7 – Mental Disorder and Criminal Justice

Chapter 8 – Fitness to Stand Trial

Chapter 9 – The Not Criminally Responsible Verdict

Chapter 10 – Criminal Code Review Boards – Part XX.1, the Mental Disorder Provisions: History, Structure and Foundational Concepts

Chapter 11 – Modern Review Board Law: s. 672.54 of the Criminal Code and Beyond

Chapter 12 – Dangerous Offender and Long-Term Offender Proceedings

Chapter 13 – Mental Health Considerations in Bail and Sentencing

Chapter 14 – Mental Health Courts and Specialized Courts

Chapter 15 – Indigenous Peoples and Mental Health Law

Chapter 16 – Introduction to Coroner’s Inquests in Ontario Involving Mental Health Issues

Chapter 17 – Public Interest Standing by People With Lived Experience of Mental Health Issues at Ontario Coroner’s Inquests – Part I: Recommendations From Inquests in Police-involved Deaths

Chapter 18 – Public Interest Standing by People With Lived Experience of Mental Health Issues at Ontario Coroner’s Inquests – Part II: Recommendations From Inquests in Institutional Deaths

Chapter 19 – Practicing Mental Health Law: Advocacy Tools, Trauma-Informed Lawyering, Empathy and Increasing Access to Justice