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Capacity and Self-determination law comes into effect

28 September 2018

​A new law, which aims to uphold human rights and to support people with decision-making, comes into force on Monday 1 October.

The premise of the new Capacity and Self-determination Law is that individuals aged 16 and over are assumed to have the ability to make their own decisions about their lives.

The new legislation will also make sure that islanders can determine how decisions are made for them when they can no longer make those decisions for themselves. It aims to ensure that all decisions made on someone else’s behalf are in accordance with that person’s own values, beliefs and wishes.

The five core principles of the legislation are:

  • anyone aged 16 or over must be assumed to have the capacity to make their own decisions, unless it is proven that they lack capacity in relation to a particular decision
  • a person must be fully supported to make their own decisions
  • a person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because they make an unwise decision
  • any act or decision made, on a behalf of a person lacking capacity, must be in the person’s best interests
  • any act or decision made on behalf of a person lacking capacity must limit their rights and freedom of action as little as possible

The legislation explains that all possible steps must be taken to enable a person to make their own decision before that decision is made for them. Under the new law, making unwise decisions is not grounds for deeming somebody unable to make decisions for themselves.

The law also brings into effect various options to allow people to make decisions for their future.
Minister for Health and Community Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “I am delighted to welcome this new law, which could affect us all. It will safeguard the dignity and wellbeing of those who lack the capacity to decide things for themselves, which is a vital step in protecting the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The legislation will also allow those of us who are able to make our own decisions to plan for a time when we may lose this capacity. This will allow us to appoint someone to manage our affairs and ensure that our beliefs and values are always taken into account if decisions need to be made for us in the future.”

The law was developed following significant public consultation as well as consultation with GPs, charities and legal and health professionals.

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