Thu 21 Jul 22
Mental health and human rights lawyer Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE has received a honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to improving access to justice for everyone, the wider legal profession and public services.
Lucy said : ”I would first of all like to say thank you very much to the University of Essex for awarding me this honorary degree. its a great privilege and I am truly grateful. Secondly I would like to congratulate all today’s graduates who have had to work for the degrees far more than I’ve had to work for mine.
“I had the pleasure of working with Professor Maurice Sunkin and some of his colleagues here when I was involved in the UK Administrative Justice Institute, and on that basis I know that you will all have received a really excellent and stimulating legal education at Essex.”
She urged graduates to look to make a difference by using the skills they have developed at Essex and by being inspired by Essex’s commitment to social justice.
She said: “I reckon that most people come into law because they’re interested in justice and want to be part of providing justice. You may find yourself working in a branch of the law which doesn’t immediately appear to offer opportunities to fight for justice, but you can still do so by getting involved in pro bono activities, through your day job, or in your locality, and related volunteering, such as being police station visitors, school governors and charity trustees.”
Orator Professor Andrew Le Sueur said: “Lucy has not only built a hugely successful legal firm, but has also built her reputation as a mental health and human rights lawyer, and as a passionate promoter and supporter of administrative justice, human rights and equality.
“We are incredibly grateful to her contribution to the work of our School of Law. Lucy chaired the Nuffield Foundation’s advisory board during the creation of our School of Law’s UK Administrative Justice Institute project (UKAJI) in 2014 and oversaw the Nuffield funded stages of the project. She has since maintained close links with those from the University of Essex ever since.”
Lucy has spent the majority of her working life representing the most vulnerable in society, including those detained under the Mental Health Act.
Lucy has won a number of test cases in domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) protecting and asserting the rights of this section of society. She acted in the first case under the Human Rights Act that resulted in a remedial order (a ministerial amendment to legislation), as a result of which the discharge criteria to be applied by Mental Health Tribunals was amended in favour of detained patients.
Lucy founded the firm Scott-Moncrieff & Associates in 1987, after the birth of her first child, as she wanted the flexibility of self-employment so she could combine work with motherhood. Initially specialising in mental health and human rights law - and a pioneer in flexible and remote working - the firm has since expanded to cover many areas of law.
In 2012 she was appointed President of The Law Society, and in 2013 was awarded Commander of the British Empire for her valued contribution in the legal sector. Lucy was the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards from 2016-2021.
She makes a valuable contribution across a huge range of roles. She has been Chair of the Law Society’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee; Co-Chair of the Legal Aid and Access to Justice Committee of the International Bar Association and a Commissioner with the Judicial Appointments Committee, Lucy sits as a Tribunal judge and as a judge in the Court of Protection, and was a member of the Bach Commission on Access to Justice. She was a founder member of the QC Appointments Panel, was a commissioner with Postcomm from 2008 to 2011, and is an Associate with Verita, which carries out investigations on behalf of public bodies.
In recent years, Lucy has spoken and written widely on the benefits of a virtual way of working, and her growing firm prides itself on its dedicated team who work on behalf of the vulnerable and incapacitated. In 2019, Lucy was awarded the prestigious ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by The Law Society for her outstanding contribution to the legal profession.