Mental Capacity in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • R v C
    • House of Lords
    • 30 Julio 2009

    My Lords, it is difficult to think of an activity which is more person and situation specific than sexual relations. One consents to this act of sex with this person at this time and in this place. Autonomy entails the freedom and the capacity to make a choice of whether or not to do so. This is entirely consistent with the respect for autonomy in matters of private life which is guaranteed by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  • Re SA (Vulnerable Adult with Capacity: Marriage)
    • Family Division
    • 15 Diciembre 2005

    It suffices for present purposes to say that, in my judgment, the authorities to which I have referred demonstrate that the inherent jurisdiction can be exercised in relation to a vulnerable adult who, even if not incapacitated by mental disorder or mental illness, is, or is reasonably believed to be, either (i) under constraint or (ii) subject to coercion or undue influence or (iii) for some other reason deprived of the capacity to make the relevant decision, or disabled from making a free choice, or incapacitated or disabled from giving or expressing a real and genuine consent.

  • Masterman-Lister v Brutton; Masterman-Lister v Jewell
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 16 Enero 2003

    The authorities are unanimous in support of two broad propositions. First, that the mental capacity required by the law is capacity in relation to the transaction which is to be effected. Second, that what is required is the capacity to understand the nature of that transaction when it is explained. But they can be traced from much earlier authority. "should be capable of understanding what he did by executing the deed in question when its general import was fully explained to him"

    For the purposes of RSC 80 – and, now, CPR 21—the test to be applied, as it seems to me, is whether the party to legal proceedings is capable of understanding, with the assistance of such proper explanation from legal advisers and experts in other disciplines as the case may require, the issues on which his consent or decision is likely to be necessary in the course of those proceedings.

  • R v C
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 23 Mayo 2008

    It does not follow from that irrational fear that the complainant would not have been capable of choosing whether or not to agree to sexual activity in circumstances which did not give rise to that fear. Irrational fear that prevents the exercise of choice cannot be equated with lack of capacity to choose. We agree with Munby J's conclusion that a lack of capacity to choose to agree to sexual activity cannot be 'person specific' or, we would add, 'situation specific'.

  • Re T (an Adult) (Consent to Medical Treatment)
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 30 Julio 1992

    Doctors faced with a refusal of consent have to give very careful and detailed consideration to the patient's capacity to decide at the time when the decision was made. What matters is that the doctors should consider whether at that time he had a capacity which was commensurate with the gravity of the decision which he purported to make. The more serious the decision, the greater the capacity required.

  • PC (by her litigation friend the Official Solicitor) [1] and Another v City of York Council
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 01 Mayo 2013

    The determination of capacity under MCA 2005, Part 1 is decision specific. Some other decisions, for example whether P should have contact with a particular individual, may be person specific. But all decisions, whatever their nature, fall to be evaluated within the straightforward and clear structure of MCA 2005, ss 1 to 3 which requires the court to have regard to 'a matter' requiring 'a decision'. There is neither need nor justification for the plain words of the statute to be embellished.

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