The Mental Capacity Act

Protecting your right to make your own decisions

The Mental Capacity Act states that you are entitled to make your own decisions, unless it is shown that you can’t due to a disability.

If you would like to know a bit more, please check our page about Mental Capacity

You should have support to make your own decisions for as long as you are able and be involved as much as possible even when you can't make decisions. 

The Mental Capacity Act means that…

  • People can plan ahead for a time when they may lose capacity
  • Vulnerable people who are not able to make their own decisions are empowered and protected
  • It’s clear who can make decisions, in which situation, and how they should go about it
  • Just because someone makes a decision judged to be "unwise" doesn't mean that they lack the capacity to make decisions 

Acting on someone’s behalf

If you're making a decision on behalf of someone who can't make their own decisions, you have a responsibility to make sure that you represent them fairly. You must:

  • Involve them as much as possible
  • Act in their best interests
  • Take their beliefs and preferences into consideration 

If a person has no one to act for them, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) can be appointed to represent them to convey the person's wishes, feelings, beliefs and values. 

Planning for Your Future

You can appoint someone to act on your behalf if you lose capacity in the future, and it can give that person the right to make decisions covering your:

  • Property and finance
  • Health and welfare

This is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney.

You can also influence decisions about your future care and treatment, including the right to refuse treatment. This is known as advanced decisions. 

The Court of Protection

This court has the power to make legal decisions and judgments under the Mental Capacity Act. It makes final decisions on disputes about whether a person lacks capacity or if a decision made on their behalf is challenged. 

Find out more about the Act and how it is used.