Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015
The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (“the Act”) was signed into law on the 30th of December 2015. The Act is to be commenced by Order or Orders of the Minister for Health.
The Act deals with a number of issues in Irish law relating to capacity:
- It attempts to reform the outdated Ward of Court system.
- It introduces a number of supervisory roles to assist those with diminished capacity (relevant persons):
- Where a relevant person has or predicts they will soon have slightly diminished capacity, they can appoint a Decision-Making Assistant to help them in collecting information and understanding that information.
- Where a relevant person has capacity which is diminished or they believe will soon be diminished to a point where they may need a someone to take a more active role in helping with decision-making they may appoint a Co-Decision-Maker to jointly make decisions with them in certain agreed areas. The Act does not prescribe what decisions will require co-decisions – this will be determined by the Co-Decision-Making Agreement.
- Decision-Making Representatives are appointed by an Order of the Court (Circuit) in order to act as the Agent of the relevant person and make decisions on their behalf.
The Court may also make Decision-Making Orders, which are effectively Court made decisions. These will likely be used as an interim measure during ongoing applications to appoint a Decision-Making Representatives (or indeed other applications).
- The Act introduces a system of Advanced Healthcare Directives, in order to allow people to set out their wishes with regards how their medical treatment should be handled in the event that they lose capacity.
- The Act reforms the Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”) system. These reforms are not particularly extensive but makes small and important changes to prevent the abuse of EPAs by the Attorney.
- The Act also provides for a new post of Director of Decision Support Services in order to perform a number of procedural and regulatory functions under the Act.