The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill is being debated in Parliament. The Law Society recently published their thoughts to be considered by MPs. The full report from the Law Society can be found here.
The Law Society
The Law Society is the representative body for 180,000 solicitors in England and wales. It also negotiates on behalf of the profession, lobbies regulators, Government and others and has a public interest role in working for reform of the law.
A Bills Journey through Parliament
For simplicity’s sake, the journey that a ‘Bill’ takes through Parliament is summarised in the diagram below:
If you are interested in finding out more about this process, the following link takes you to the Parliament website, where the process is given in more detail: Passage of a Bill.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005
The MCA 2005 is used when someone over the age of 16 lacks the mental capacity (‘capacity’) to make decisions for themselves regarding their health, welfare, housing and finance. One of our previous blogs explaining capacity in more detail can be found here: What is Capacity.
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill is a Bill which seeks to amend the MCA 2005, and bring it up to date. The Bill and related documents can be found on the Parliament website.
The MCA 2005 is now over a decade old in in need of amending, but the Law Society is concerned that some of the proposed amendments will leave vulnerable people at risk by removing existing and vital safeguards for cared-for people.
The Concern of the Law Society
The Law Society is not seeking to stop the Bill progressing through Parliament, simply to make Parliament aware that some of the proposed changes will make the treatment and detention of vulnerable individuals under the Act unlawful. They contend that the flaws that currently exist in the MCA 2005 are at risk of being duplicated and that the amendments should seek to address these issues rather than risk replacing one deficient system with another.
The Law Society has emphasised that:
The main areas of concern from the Law Society regarding the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill are:
Questions for the Second Reading
The Law Society has composed several suggested questions to be submitted at the second reading of the Bill in the Commons:
Another of our blogs from 2017 (The Law Relating to Deprivation of Liberty is Changing) explores the law on mental capacity and explains how the changes discussed above began.
The changes that are now being proposed in the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill came about through the Law Commission starting a review in 2014 of mental capacity laws and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). The full report from the Law Commission can be found here. There is also a 30-page Summary and an Easy-Read version.
Conroys Solicitors LLP offer advice and assistance in legal matters relating to mental health law. To arrange a free 30 minute consultation with one of our lawyers, please telephone the office on 01872 272 457.