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Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Sections 1314 - Formal assessments of capacity

Section 13 provides that the formal assessment of capacity safeguard applies to an act that is, or is part of, a serious intervention. In these cases, a formal capacity assessment must be carried out and a statement of incapacity made, otherwise D will not be able to avail of the protection from liability under section 9. The section makes it clear that a belief by D that P lacks capacity in relation to such acts is not a reasonable one for the purposes of section 9 if a formal capacity assessment has not been carried out where the Act requires it. In addition, the formal capacity assessment must be carried out recently enough so as to be relevant and meaningful. This safeguard does not apply where the situation is an emergency (see sections 65 and 66).

“Formal capacity assessment” is defined in section 14 as an assessment carried out by a “suitably qualified person” to be defined in regulations. “Statement of incapacity” is also defined in section 14. It means a statement in writing by the assessor, certifying that in the assessor’s opinion, P lacks capacity in relation to the serious intervention. The statement must also specify, among other things, which of the functional aspects of the capacity test set out in section 4 P is not able to do because of an impairment or disturbance in the functioning of P’s mind or brain. Also, importantly, the statement must specify any help or support given to P, without success, to enable P to make the decision for him or herself.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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