On 26 April 2023 the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015) (the "2015 Act") and the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Act 2022 (Ireland) (the "2022 Amendment Act") were commenced.
The 2015 Act is about supporting the decision-making of vulnerable people and maximising a person's capacity to make decisions. As such, this Act is particularly relevant to all health and social care services. For more information on the key reforms brought about by this legislation, including the abolition of the Wards of the Court system and the creation of the Decision Support Service, please see our previous article.
The amendments in the 2022 Act are aimed at empowering the Director of the Decision Support Service and streamlining processes and safeguards provided for under the 2015 Act.
Some of the most important amendments provide:
- A means for the Decision Support Service to resolve complaints made to it outside of the court system.
- The Director of the Decision Support Service is permitted to investigate complaints in relation to people other than decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives, and attorneys. The amendment also provides for investigations of complaints in relation to Designated Healthcare Representatives.
- The Director of the Decision Support Service is permitted to seek a court order, temporarily prohibiting a decision supporter from acting in the role, until an investigation has been concluded, and that the relevant person's assets be protected during an investigation.
- The creation of offences in relation to a co-decision-making assistance agreement. These offences include the use of fraud, coercion or undue influence to make, vary, or revoke a co-decision-making assistance agreement.
The 2015 Act requires that within three years of commencement, i.e. by 26 April 2026, all existing wards will be discharged from wardship. To this end, the Office of the Wards of Court is currently preparing for the review of all adult wards' cases, which will be carried out during the three-year transitional period.
The Courts Service announced that new court rules will be developed in the coming weeks to set out the procedures for applications relating to assisted decision making and in particular the appointment of a decision making representative to make certain decisions on behalf of the relevant person.
This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.