mental capacity

Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is an act of the United Kingdom parliament that came into force in April 2007. It applies to everyone over the age of 16 in England and Wales. Its primary purpose is to provide a legal framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack the capacity to make particular decisions for themselves.

Key features of the Act

The five statutory principles

The five principles are outlined in the Section 1 of the Act. It aims to protect people who lack capacity to make particular decisions, but also to maximise their ability to make decisions, or to participate in decision-making, as far as they are able to do so.

Summary of other key elements of the Act

  • The Act assumes that everyone can make their own decisions – just that some people need support.
  • The Act makes provision for people to plan ahead for a time when they may need support. This introduces advanced decisions to refuse treatment.
  • The Act is decision specific in that it deals with difficulties a person may have with a particular issue.
  • The Act upholds the principle of Best Interest for the individual concerned.
  • A Court of Protection will help with difficult decisions. The Office of the Public Guardian (formerly Public Guardianship Office), the administrative arm of the Court of Protection, will help the Act work.
  • An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) service will provide help for people who have no intimate support network.
  • The Act makes it a criminal offence to wilfully neglect someone without capacity.

Timetable of new features

The new things that the Act introduced were:

April 2007

October 2007

  • Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy Service extended to Wales
  • New Lasting Powers of Attorney and deputies
  • A new Court of Protection
  • A new Office of the Public Guardian


This Act was amended by the Mental Health Act 2007 in July 2007, although this awaits implementation.


External links

Further reading

  • Atkinson, J. (2006) Private and Public Protection: Civil Mental Health Legislation, Edinburgh, Dunedin Academic Press

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