Dr Oliver Lewis

Dr Oliver Lewis


I am a barrister practising from Doughty Street Chambers, London, specialising in mental health and capacity law, public law and inquests. I hold a part-time position at the School of Law. I coordinate the International Disability Law Clinic, am a member of the Centre for Law and Social Justice, and the University's Centre for Disability Studies. 

I gave my inaugural lecture at the School of Law on 3 November 2016. Entitled “Disabling legal barriers”, the lecture drew on my experience of litigation and advocacy in central and eastern Europe over the previous fifteen years. Developing the themes of anguish, activism and argument, I called on law students to become social justice activists, whatever area of law they choose as a career. The video is available to watch here, and an article based on the lecture was published in Vol. 1 (2017) European Human Rights Law Review.

From 2006 until May 2017 I was Executive Director of ‘Validity’ (formerly the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre MDAC), an international NGO that uses law to advance rights of people with mental health issues or intellectual disabilities worldwide, and from 2001 to 2006 its Legal Director.


  • Coordinator, International Disability Law Clinic

Research interests

I am interested in how law serves both as a barrier to social inclusion and as means of addressing injustice. My research focuses on international human rights law and mechanisms, human rights monitoring (including monitoring closed institutions such as psychiatric hospitals), strategic litigation, legal capacity, independent living, detention, torture and ill-treatment (including psychiatric coercion), the right to health, inclusive education, political participation and access to justice.

I am currently looking into the role of mental health professionals in advancing rights rights. With colleagues from King’s College London, I advise on the "Mental Health and Justice" project, a Wellcome Trust funded initiative. I am a member of the expert advisory group of Inclusion International's "Catalyst for Inclusive Education". I served as scientific director for the first disability project of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, and have been a consultant to several NGOs and organisations such as the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Barrister
  • PhD, University of Leiden in the Netherlands
  • MA (Medical Ethics and Law), King’s College London
  • MPA (Master of Public Administration), Open University Business School
  • LLB (Hons), London School of Economics and Political Science

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
  • Inquest Legal Group
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA)
  • Trustee of the Avon and Bristol Law Centre

Student education

I lead the LLM module “Global human rights advocacy” and teach on both the LLB and LLM disability law offerings. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Law and Social Justice
  • Disability Law Hub