Oliver Lewis is Executive Director of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, having served as its Legal Director from the organisation’s inception in 2002 until 2006. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2000, and is an Associate Member of Doughty Street Chambers, London.
Before joining MDAC, Oliver practised as a barrister, and was previously a research assistant to Professor Genevra Richardson’s expert committee on mental health law reform, and subsequently for the UK’s Department of Health. His academic qualifications are an LLB law degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College, London, and a MPA (Master of Public Administration) from the Open University Business School. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FinstLM).
Oliver leads MDAC’s advocacy, and has over a decade’s experience in developing and executing advocacy strategies that encourage international bodies to ensure governments implement their human rights commitments. Oliver has experience advocating before a variety of human rights mechanisms, including UN treaty bodies, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the European Parliament, the Venice Commission, and several bodies within the Council of Europe. He is an experienced public speaker and has given presentations to disabled people’s organisations, human rights activists, inspectorates, lawyers and judges in many countries. Recent invited presentations include at the Global OPCAT Forum in Geneva, the Academy of European Law in Trier, and the Castan Center for Human Rights in Melbourne.
Oliver has a variety of teaching appointments. He is recurrent Visiting Professor at the Legal Studies Department, Central European University in Budapest where he teaches a course on “Mental disability law and advocacy” to LLM and MA students. Since 2010 he has directed an annual summer school at CEU on “Mental disability law in practice”. He is also a faculty member of the International Diploma on Mental Health Law and Human Rights, run by the Indian Law Society in Pune, India, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. In 2012 he became Visiting Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds, UK. He also teaches a short online course on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Oliver serves on the editorial board of the European Yearbook on Disability Law and reviews articles for a number of journals. He has written several publications, including:
- With Dorottya Karsay, “Disability, torture and ill-treatment: taking stock and ending abuses”, (2012) The International Journal of Human Rights, 16(6), 816–830
- “Stanev v. Bulgaria: On the Pathway to Freedom”, Human Rights Brief, Vol. 19, Issue 2, 2012
- Lewis, O. and Munro, P, “Civil Society Involvement in Mental Health Law and Policy Reform” in Mental Health and Human Rights, edited by Dudley, M, Silove, D., Gale, F. Oxford University Press, 2012
- “Advancing legal capacity jurisprudence”, (2011) European Human Rights Law Review, 6, 700-714
- Drew, N., Funk, M., Tang, S., Lamichhane, J., Chávez, E., Katontoka, S., Pathare, S., Lewis, O., Gostin, L., Saraceno, B., “Human rights violations of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities: an unresolved global crisis”, The Lancet, 17 October 2011
- Lewis O. and Bartlett, P., “Human Rights and Community Mental Health”, in Oxford Textbook of Community Mental Health, edited by Thornicroft, G. et al, 2011
- “The expressive, educational and proactive roles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, in Rethinking Mental Health Laws, McSherry, B. and Waller, P. (eds), 2010, chapter 5, pp 97-128
- Fiala, J. and Lewis, O., “Investigations After Death and European Law”, in Disabled People and the Right to Life: the protection and violation of disabled people’s most basic human right, Clements, L. and Read, J. (eds), 2008, Routledge Publishing, UK.
- Bartlett, P., Lewis, O. and Thorold, O., (2007) Mental Disability and the European Convention on Human Rights, Martinus Nijhoff, the Netherlands. 377pp, foreword by Sir Nicolas Bratza
- Rasmussen, M. and Lewis, O., “Introductory Note to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, 46 (2007) I.L.M. 441
- “Inspections of Institutions”, Newsletter of European Coalition for Community Living, Issue 4, 2007
- “Right to life: European Convention on Human Rights: Case Commentary on Paul and Audrey Edwards v. The United Kingdom” (2003) Journal of Mental Health Law, 75-84
- “Mental Disability Law in Central and Eastern Europe: Paper, Practice, Promise”, (2002) 8 Journal of Mental Health Law, 293-303. Re-printed in Peay, J. (ed) Seminal Issues in Mental Health Law (Ashgate Publishing, London, 2005
- “Protecting the Rights of People with Mental Disabilities: the European Convention on Human Rights” (2002) European Journal of Health Law, 9(4), 293-320
- “Yearning for freedom – Human Rights within Psychiatric Institutions”, Health Care and Human Rights, (2002) Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, 16-26
- “Medical Negligence and Psychiatric Misdiagnosis”, (2001) Mental Health Care
- “Compulsory Psychiatric Treatment in the Community”, (2000) 10(1) Dispatches (Journal of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College London), 10-13
- “Renewing Detention whilst a Patient is on Leave of Absence”, (2000) 11(1) Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 151-157
- Lewis, O. and Carpenter, S., “Episodic Dyscontrol and the English Criminal Law”, (1999) 1 Journal of Mental Health Law, 13-22