Ministry of Justice
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Government issues key guidance on the Mental Capacity Act

Government issues key guidance on the Mental Capacity Act

DEPARTMENT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS News Release (No:042/07) issued by The Government News Network on 23 April 2007

The Code of Practice for people making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack mental capacity was published by the Government today.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Cathy Ashton said the Code was an important milestone in the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act.

The Code, which sets out best practice for professionals, family carers and other groups, will be an essential guide to help people make decisions that are in the best interests of some of the most vulnerable people in society. The Code, part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, covers an extensive range of different decisions that might need to be taken. Professionals and other paid carers are expected to have regard to the Code when working with someone who lacks capacity.

Cathy Ashton said:

"Today marks an important step in ensuring that people who lack capacity to make decisions get the best deal when it comes to their care. "All too easily, these vulnerable people are at risk of having decisions made for them that are inappropriate or do not properly take into account their needs or wishes.

"The Code lays out what anyone providing care or working in this area should take into account when making decisions on behalf of others. It has been written to meet the needs of a wide and varied audience for clear and accurate guidance.

"It is important to remember that some people may lack the capacity to make more complex decisions, but can still make other decisions about, for example, what to eat or wear or if they want to go out for the day. That they must be allowed to do so is also laid down in the Code."

The Code follows extensive consultation to make sure it represents the best interests of vulnerable people.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a statutory framework for people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. It sets out who can take decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about this. It also enables people to make provision for a time in the future when they may lack capacity to make some decisions.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Code and the Mental Capacity Act are available at

2. The Code applies immediately to those aspects of the Mental Capacity Act relating to Independent Mental Capacity Advocates and the new criminal offence of ill-treatment or neglect and for all other provisions from 1 October once they come into force.

3. The Mental Capacity Act received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005. Some parts of the Act came into affect in April 2007 with the rest commencing in October 2007.

4. Parts of the Act that came in to effect in April 2007 include the new criminal offence of ill-treatment or willful neglect of people lacking mental capacity and the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate Service in England (IMCAs).

5. Other parts of the Act including the Court of Protection, the Office of the Public Guardian,Lasting Powers of Attorney and the IMCA service for Wales will come into effect in October 2007.


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