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Professor Judy Laing

Professor Judy Laing

Professor Judy Laing
LL.B., PhD(Leeds)

Professor of Mental Health Law, Rights and Policy

Area of research

Chair in Law

Office 2.02
8-10 Berkeley Square,
Bristol, BS8 1HH
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 40093



Judy Laing is Professor of Mental Health Law, Rights, and Policy in the School of Law at the University of Bristol. She has previously taught at Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff universities. Her main research and teaching interests are in mental health law, policy and human rights. She has also written on the intersection between mental health and criminal law/justice. Her monograph Care or Custody? Mentally Disordered Offenders in the Criminal Justice System (Oxford University Press, 1999) was awarded a prestigious SLS prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship by a Younger Scholar in 2000. Judy recently jointly edited and co-authored a chapter in the fourth edition of the leading health law text, Principles of Medical Law, published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Judy co-authored a chapter on 'Mental Health Professionals' (with Prof N Glover-Thomas) in L. Gostin et al (Eds) Principles of Mental Health Law (Oxford University Press, 2010). She has published extensively in a number of peer-reviewed journals and edited collections, primarily on aspects of mental health /health law, human rights and criminal law/justice. She has delivered numerous conference and seminar papers to a variety of audiences, both nationally and internationally, including a number of invited contributions. Judy jointly organised (with Prof P Barlett, University of Nottingham) a session on Article 16 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the International Academy of Law & Mental Health (IALMH) Congress, Vienna in July 2015 which led to the publication of a special issue in the International Journal of Law & Psychiatry. She organised a further session at the IALMH Congress in Prague, July 2017 in collaboration with the United Kingdom National Preventive Mechanism on promoting international human rights in mental health monitoring, as well as organising a panel session on the role of relatives/carers in mental health law at the IALMH Congress in Rome, July 2019.

Judy is a founding member and former Co-Director of the Centre for Health, Law and Society at the University of Bristol. She is a member of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute's Steering Group and is also involved with other mental health research groupings across the univertsity. 

Judy is a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Law Review, International Journal of Law & Psychiatry and Medicine, Science & Law. She has previously held editorial positions with the Medical Law Review (Assistant Editor), Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (Case Note Editor) and the Journal of Law & Society. She is a member of the Care Quality Commission's Mental Health Act External Advisory Group. 

Judy is currently supervising five PhD students and welcomes expressions of interest from prospective PhD students on topics relating to mental health/capacity law, human rights and criminal law/justice.

Judy is currently the Faculty Admissions and Recruitment Officer for Law and Director of Student Admissions and Recruitment in the School of Law. She is a member of the Law School's Senior Management Group.


Judy currently leads and teaches on several units on the LLM in Health, Law, and Society; teaches Medical Law and Introduction to Law units on the LLB; and supervises a number of LLM dissertations and final year LLB research projects. She has previously taught Tort Law at Bristol, as well as Criminal Law and Equity & Trusts at other universities in the UK. She has been invited to deliver seminars to mental health, social work and legal practitioners on aspects of mental health law and policy, and she has contributed sessions on mental health/health law/human rights to programmes in other schools/faculties.

She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.



  • Mental health law and policy
  • Mental capacity law
  • Health law
  • Human rights
  • Criminal justice.


  • Member - Society of Legal Scholars Member - Mental Health Act Expert Advisory Group
  • Care Quality Commission Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Professor Laing currently teaches 4 courses:

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