If you’re a legal professional supporting clients who have mental health needs and who are in vulnerable circumstances, there are many resources available to help you.
Law Society practice notes
Our practice notes help you:
- communicate with and represent your client
- make sure your client can participate effectively in legal processes
- manage your client’s affairs if you’ve been appointed as their attorney
- understand when you can share your client’s information with third parties
Access and disclosure of an incapacitated person’s will – aims to clarify when a solicitor can disclose a copy of a client’s will to a property and financial affairs attorney or deputy appointed by the Court of Protection
Accredited legal representatives (ALR) in the Court of Protection – includes detailed advice on the role of an ALR and good practice in the Court of Protection
Lasting powers of attorney (LPA) – provides an overview of LPA, and also covers the ongoing arrangements for Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA)
Powers of attorney for banking – information about the different powers of attorney that can be used when dealing with a bank
Mind’s mental health guide
Mind, the mental health charity, has developed a guide for prosecutors and advocates working with vulnerable clients, called Achieving justice for victims and witnesses with mental distress (PDF).
The guide includes:
- practical information and advice about mental distress
- tools to reduce mental distress and give victims and witnesses equal access to justice
You can use it as a training tool or to support day-to-day decision making and case handling.
Law Society library resources
Our library keeps a database of enquiries called Common Queries. These include results from the research we did to answer those queries. Resources include:
Lawdocs, our document supply service, can send you copies of the documents if you need them.
For help accessing our library resources email our library team or call 020 7320 5946.
Citizens Advice Witness Service
The Citizens Advice Witness Service offers support for defence and prosecution witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales. It’s funded by the Ministry of Justice.
The service provides:
- practical information about the court and legal process
- emotional support to help witnesses feel more confident about giving evidence
- a preparation service which includes contacting witnesses before their trial to talk through the process of giving evidence
- the chance to visit an empty courtroom before the trial day and to give witnesses an idea of what it’ll be like when they give evidence
- support and information while the witness is at court for the trial, and help with claiming expenses
Vulnerable and intimidated witnesses who may need a higher level of preparation and support can get extra help from the Witness Service. This includes preparation sessions at the witness’s home or a community location.
The benefits of using the service include:
- witnesses being more likely to give stronger evidence
- reducing the rate of witnesses not attending
- allowing defence solicitors to spend more time with their client rather than having the constant distraction of trying to keep their witnesses updated on proceedings when at court
You can refer witnesses in advance through the online referral form.
Advance referrals mean that the service can contact your witness before the trial date to offer support.
Witnesses can also be referred on the day directly to the Witness Service, who are based in every criminal court. Ask the court office where to find the service.