Publication of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013

IMHLA welcomes the publication of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 as an important step in the reform of the long-outdated law on mental capacity. The new legislation will greatly assist vulnerable people with limited decision making capacity to better manage their personal, property and financial affairs.  We welcome the replacing of the Wards of Court system with a new legal framework that gives greater autonomy to those who need assistance in making fundamental decisions concerning their lives.  We welcome the provisions for detention related safeguards and reviews of people who are detained in psychiatric institutions under orders made under the current Ward of Court system. We also welcome the announcement that the Bill will, at Committee Stage, incorporate provisions relating to Advance Care Directives, which will be provided by the Department of Health.

We congratulate Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch for their commitment to getting this Bill published. This Bill will replace the long-outdated Lunacy Act of 1871. Its publication represents crucial progress in Ireland’s journey towards implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

While we welcome the publication of this Bill, we are also concerned on our initial review of the Bill that there are a number of flaws within it that stop it from being fully in line with the CRPD. In particular it seems that the provisions of the proposed legislation may not be available to people who are suffering from a Mental Disorder in relation to their treatment under the Mental Health Act 2001. The Convention expressly states that people with disabilities, including mental health problems, should enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.

We look forward to working with Oireachtas Members as the Bill goes through the Houses and to further clarification on the interaction of this legislation with the Mental Health Act 2001.

For further information please contact:

Áine Hynes Chair, Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association

01 6779097