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Latest news and blog » The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 2016-04-13

Prior to this new legislation, vulnerable people did not have clear rights to make decisions concerning their lives and the law on deciding who has decision-making capacity had been a very grey area. The Act follows a set of principles mainly:

  • a person's capacity shall be assessed on the basis of his or her ability to understand the nature and consequences of a decision to be made by him or her in the context of the available choices at the time the decision is made.
  • A person lacks capacity if he or she is unable to understand the information relevant to the decision; to retain that information long enough to make a voluntary choice; to use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision or; to communicate his or her decision by any means.
  • A person is not to be regarded as unable to understand the information relevant to a decision if he or she is able to understand an explanation of it given to him or her in a way that is appropriate to his or her circumstances.
  • The fact that a person is able to retain the information relevant to a decision for a short period only does not prevent him or her from being regarded as having the capacity to make the decision.
  • The fact that a person lacks capacity in respect of a decision on a particular matter at a particular time does not prevent him or her from being regarded as having capacity to make decisions on the same matter at another time.
  • The fact that a person lacks capacity in respect of a decision on a particular matter does not prevent him or her from being regarded as having capacity to make decisions on other matters.

The new Act enables specific individuals (called "interveners" to support people while enabling them to have their voices heard and to have their wishes followed where possible.

The new Act will abolish the legislation relating to Wards of Court. Existing Wards of Court will be brought under the jurisdiction of the Act, within three years of the commencement of this part of the Act.

The Act is coming into operation on a phased basis in 2016 after regulations are made and codes of practice followed.

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