Assisted Decision-making

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law in 2015. The legislation sets out a system of supports for adults who have difficulties with decision-making capacity. People who may need supports to make decisions include some people with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury or some people with age-related conditions affecting capacity. Anybody may need to use the provisions of the Act at one time or another.

The Assisted Decision-making Act is not yet commenced, it has not yet come into effect, but it guides best practise.

What the Assisted Decision-making Act Says

The act says that everyone is presumed to be able to decide for themselves unless the opposite is shown. The new law sets out ways to support people who lack capacity to make decisions. The new assisted decision-making act moves away from a ‘best interests’ approach for people who need support with decision making. It is a move to a rights-based approach to decision making with respect for the will and preference of the person

Under the new legislation Ward of Court will be replaced by a system of graduated supports for decision making.

Decision-making and Consent – Assisted Decision-making (Capacity) Act 2015

What is Ward of Court?

Ward of Court is a system of guardianship for adults where the courts have decided that the person does not have capacity to make decisions. The person becomes a ward of the court; the court is their legal guardian and decision-maker. It is currently the only form of legal guardianship for any adult.

The main purpose of Wardship is to look after the welfare and to protect the property of a person where this is considered necessary. The Office of Wards of Court is responsible for administering this process. The Court Service have produced a guide to the Ward of Court system.


Decision-making and Consent – Everyday Situations

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law in 2015 but the timeframe for the new law to come into full effect remains unclear. Here is best practise, set out in policy and guides, to support decision-making while we wait for the new legislation to come into full effect.


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The Decision Support Service

The Decision Support Service is set up within the Mental Health Commission and will oversee the implementation of the new Assisted Decision-making legislation.


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