Much of Laura’s work involves human rights, which was the focus of her doctoral studies at Cambridge. Questions relating to Article 8 governing the right to privacy, autonomy and bodily integrity frequently arise in her cases, and (more rarely) Article 3 which protects against torture, inhuman and degrading punishment or treatment. For example, she brought a successful damages claim on behalf of an informal patient subjected to unlawful restraint and forcible injection whilst he visited friends on a hospital ward. Matters relating to Article 2 governing the right to life may also arise in the medical treatment cases and health-related inquest work which Laura undertakes. For example, she successfully challenged the failure of a London Trust to fund cancer treatment for an elderly patient, resulting in a U-turn and the provision of treatment.
A large part of Laura’s practice involves breaches of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She receives regular instructions in habeas corpus applications, largely arising out of defects in detention procedure contrary to the requirements of the Mental Health Act 1983. She also has expertise in cases resisting the disclosure of medical records and Data Protection Act cases. Her Court of Protection practice frequently involves questions relating to Article 5 in relation to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (‘DOLS’) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Having written a public law thesis on international mutual cooperation as part of her LLM at the University of Cambridge, Laura subsequently co-authored a book on the topic (Jones on Extradition and Mutual Assistance (London: Sweet and Maxwell), Alun Jones (ed.) (2001) (Part C, chapters 18 and 19). She now advises regularly on international mutual assistance in civil matters, particularly in the realm of forced marriages and the anticipated removal of vulnerable adults from the jurisdiction. Where incapacitated adults have already been removed from the jurisdiction, she advises on the complex network of legislation, treaties, Conventions and international cooperation necessary to secure their return home, including the potential use of worldwide asset freezing orders. Given her expertise in this area, Laura is one of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s legal experts on its roster for the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation. She is a Consultant for the government of Rwanda, and in 2013 spent seven months drafting the country’s first mental health law.
Laura is a regular Visiting Academic Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is also an international development consultant for the UN, advising on justice and the rule of law, health and disability, gender equality, and rights-based approaches more generally. For example, she has advised UNICEF on disability law and policy in Zimbabwe, reviewed gender equality legislation in Uganda, and provided a report for the UN on women and girls with disabilities in East Timor. Laura also has legislative drafting experience, having been hired as a consultant by the government of Rwanda in 2013 to draft the country's first mental health law. In addition, she has conducted empirical qualitative research on trauma in northern Uganda.
“Well regarded in the market, and noted for her academic excellence in human rights and mental health law. She is adept at handling serious medical treatment cases and disputes around the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments. She’s a doughty fighter.”
Chambers and Partners 2017
“A popular junior with a strong academic grounding in mental health law and human rights. She is frequently instructed in Court of Protection work by health trusts, local authorities and the Official Solicitor. Extremely good. She is an effective, assertive advocate who is always entirely up to speed with the issues and knows how to get the result for her client.”
Chambers and Partners 2016
“Highly valued for both her strong commitment to cases and her academic background. It is difficult to find someone as grounded as Laura in mental capacity and mental health law, or as practical or positive. She is incredibly hard-working, dedicated and entirely approachable. She is very energetic and will go the extra mile.”
Chambers and Partners 2015
“An extremely confident advocate who is endlessly energetic. A tough opponent who fights hard for her client.”
Chambers and Partners 2014
“Laura Davidson is a mental health and human rights expert. Sources commend her work for local authorities, and she also acts for trusts, individuals and the Official Solicitor. Capable and feisty, you are pleased when she is on your side, said one instructing solicitor.”
Chambers and Partners 2013
“Laura Davidson is praised for the ‘technical precision’ she applies to her instructions, her warm nature and the ‘tenacity’ with which she approaches every aspect of her work. She is a noted authority on mental health and capacity legislation.”
Chambers and Partners 2012
Ph.D (Cantab): “An examination of the rights of the mentally disordered in English law in the context of Articles 3 and 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”
M.Phil (Cantab): “An examination of the rights of the mentally disordered offender in the English criminal justice process: public protection, risk and dangerousness”
LL.M (Cantab): International Human Rights, Environmental Law, International Commercial Litigation (papers), Public Law (Thesis): “The development of international mutual assistance in criminal matters with particular reference to the letter of request”
Bar Vocational Course, Inns of Court School of Law
Advanced Dip.Law (Distinction)
‘From Pipe Dream to Reality: A Practical Legal Approach Towards the Global Abolition of Psychiatric Coercion’
Chapter 5 in Michael A. Stein, Faraaz Mahomed, Vikram Patel and Charlene Sunkel (Eds.) (2021), ‘Mental Health, Legal Capacity, and Human Rights’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Book chapter on Article 12 (equal recognition before the law) and Article 14 (the right to liberty) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available at:
‘COVID-19 - Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’
NLJ (online) - 21st April 2020
Case Note and Comment on BP, Surrey County Council and RP  EWCOP 17, which considered the ramifications of the current Coronavirus pandemic for care home residents lawfully deprived of their liberty under the DoLS, and assessed BP’s best interests in terms of residence where his rights under Article 8 were being severely curtailed.
‘Duty of care: Inadequate safety nets’
NLJ, 168(7849): 11-12 - 19th July 2019
A critique of the ECtHR’s recent failures in Fernandes de Oliveira v Portugal (2019) ECHR 106 to (1) apply relevant case law establishing the state’s duty to take basic precautions to protect life pursuant to Article 2 of the ECHR, and (2) give reasons for distinguishing between different types of patients.
The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing
(Abingdon: Routledge) June 2019
Sole editor of entire book by over thirty global experts in the mental health field, and author of four chapters:
Chapter 1: ‘The Global Mental Health Imperative and the Role of the World Health Organization within the UN 2030 Agenda’ (co-written with Shekhar Saxena, former director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization).
Chapter 2: ‘The Rights to Mental Health and Development’ (co-authored with Lawrence O. Gostin (Professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University).
Chapter 20: ‘International Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanisms for Violations of Human Rights in the Global Mental Health Context’.
Chapter 21: ‘The Law as Sword and Shield: Upholding the Rights of those with Psychosocial Disability in National and Regional Court Systems’.
‘Patients at risk: revisiting the extent of public bodies’ duties’
SJ (online) - 4th June 2019
Article on Fernandes de Oliveira v Portugal (No.78103/14, 31 January 2019) which has finally established that the right to life under Article 2 of the ECHR applies to voluntary and involuntary psychiatric patients alike.
‘Capacity to consent to or refuse psychiatric treatment: An analysis of South African and British law’
South African Journal of Human Rights, Vol.32, Issue 3, pp.457-489 - 11th January 2017
Article comparing UK and South African compliance with international human rights obligations in terms of the mental capacity of detained psychiatric patients.
‘The experiences of survivors and trauma counselling service providers in northern Uganda: Implications for mental health policy and legislation’
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Vol.49, Part A, pp.84-92 - November-December 2016
Davidson L., Liebling H., Akello, G.F. and Ochola, G. Article considering the new Ugandan mental health Bill and the implications for mental health policy in the context of empirical research on psychological therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in Uganda.
‘Survivors and service providers’
International Journal of Law and Society - 2016
Experiences of trauma counselling services in northern Uganda: Implications for Mental Health Policy and Legislation’, Davidson L., Libelling H., Akello, G.F and Ochola, G.
‘Fact-finding hearings in the health and social context’
S.J. Vol.160, No.7 - 23rd February 2016
Article considering the law on when fact-finding is necessary in Court of Protection proceedings and in those before a First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in the light of In the Matter of AG  EWCOP 78 and AM v Partnerships in Care Limited and Secretary of State for Justice (2015) UKUT 659 (AAC).
‘False Imprisonment Part 1: A Right to Compensation’
S.J. Vol. 159, No.23 - 16th June 2015
Article on the implications of Lee Bostridge v Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust  EWCA Civ 79 for future claims for damages flowing from Article 5 of the ECHR (Part 2 in print on 14th July 2015)
‘False Imprisonment Part 2: Are our rights stronger in Europe?’
S.J. Vol. 159, No.27 - 14th July 2015
Second part of article on the implications of Lee Bostridge v Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust  EWCA Civ 79 for future claims for damages based on Article 5 of the ECHR. Read it here with kind permission from the Solcitors Journal.
‘Fundamental Right to Liberty’
S.J. Vol. 159, No.22 - 9th June 2015
Case note and comment on Rochdale MBC v KW and Others  EWCOP 13.
‘Improvements to National Health Policy: Mental Health, Mental Health Bill, Legislation and Justice’
African Journal of Traumatic Stress 3(2), 55-64 - 2014
Liebling, H., Davidson, L., Akello, F.G., and Ochola, G.
‘Best interests: How the Supreme Court restored the law for incapacitated patients’
S.J. - 8th January 2014
Article on Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v James  UKSC 67 and the concepts of futility and intolerability in medical treatment cases.
‘Deprivation of liberty: current approach leaves vulnerable clients with limited protection’
S.J. - 20th November 2013
Article on the new concept of comparator introduced into English law by Cheshire West and Chester Council v P  EWCA 1257 (Part II).
‘Turning Back the Clock’
S.J. Vol. 156, No.22 - 6th June 2012
Article examining recent case law on deprivation of liberty and whether the familiar dicta of the case of Engel v Netherlands (1976) 1 EHRR 647 should have been applied (Part I).
S.J. Vol. 154, No.33, pp.13-14 - 7th September 2010
Article on the ground-breaking judicial review case, R v Hackney London Borough Council and East London NHS Foundation Trust and the Secretary of State for Health, ex parte TTM  EWHC 1349 (Admin) QBD.
158 NLJ, pp.1066-1068 - 25th July 2008
Article on the covert medication of detained patients.
‘PVS Patients and Medical Welfare Applications: Wakening the Dead’
Counsel, pp.2-4 - June 2007
Article on recent developments likely to affect High Court applications for the withdrawal of treatment from patients in a permanent vegetative state.
‘Human rights v. public protection – English mental health law in crisis?’
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 25(5) (2002), 491-515
Article exploring the tension between the welfarist approach and the government’s agenda.
‘Mental Health Law and the Human Rights Act 1998’
Garwood-Gowers, et al (eds.) (2001), Healthcare Law and Practice, The Impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 (London: Cavendish) (Chapters 11 and 12).
‘Quashing convictions for pre-trial abuse of process: breaching public international law and human rights’
Cambridge Law Journal (1999), 58(3), 466-468
Case Note and Comment on the Court of Appeal decision in R. v. Mullen (No. 2)  3 W.L.R. 777
Advising Mentally Disordered Offenders: A Practical Guide, D. Postgate and C. Taylor
(Law Soc. Publishing), Crim. L.R. 2000, June, 514-515 (Book Review) - 2000
‘Maliciously procuring the issue and execution of a search warrant: easier access to a remedy?’
Cambridge Law Journal (1998), 57(2), 238-240
(Case Note and Comment on the Privy Council decision Gibbs v. Rea  3 W.L.R. 72 in which the state conspired in unlawful conduct to secure a criminal’s return to the jurisdiction).