The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force in England and Wales in 2007. Its primary purpose is to provide “a statutory framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves.” Examples of such people are those with dementia, learning disabilities, mental health problems, and so on. The Act also gives those who currently have capacity a legal framework within which they can make arrangements for a time when they may come to lack it. Toward this end, it allows for them to make advance decisions (in effect, refusals of consent to certain forms of treatment) or to appoint proxy decision makers with lasting powers of attorney.
Peter Herissone-Kelly, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Philosophy in the Philosophy Section, International School for Community, Rights, and Inclusion, at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England.