Editorial – 30 Jan 2019

The Government has announced that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice is now under consultation.  Contributions on the Code and how well (or otherwise) it works are needed in order to update it to reflect the latest best practice, incorporate the current law in relation to the Act and of course, to reflect on lessons learned by those who use it.

The Mental Capacity Act protects and empowers people who do not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions relating to care and treatment.  It is also meant to help nominated people exercise their power to make decisions on behalf of the individual when/if they get to a stage where they are unable to do so themselves.  The Code also acts as a guide for family and friends of the individual, to help them better understand the Act itself and

to find out what it can offer those who no longer have capacity.

The Act, it seems, is lacking in some areas.  I read of a case a few days ago in which a 91-year-old woman married a man 20 years her junior –  which voided her original will (read here).  Joan Blass had dementia and so this marriage was not discovered by her children until after her death.  Her children took her husband to court but lost and so they now also have to pay court fees on top of losing their inheritance.  Surely, if their mother entered into something major like an engagement and marriage, there should be some sort of failsafe process whereby family would be informed before it was too late?  I know family isn’t just about inheritance, but how sad that they have no chance of having anything, even a few belongings to remember her by.

So when responding to this consultation, consider how would you want the Code to work for you. Is there anything it can explain, or do better?  This is your chance to ensure that the Code remains relevant in today’s world and works for individuals as best as it can, so the more responses given, the better chance we have of it reflecting the needs of a wide variety of people.

I have put this in the Consultation section for this week and it will be carried forward every fortnight from next week until its nominated closing date of 7 March 2019.

Lin Mason

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