Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales provides a statutory framework to empower and protect vulnerable people who may lack the capacity to make some decisions for themselves. It makes it clear who can take decisions in which situations and how they should go about this. It also allows people to plan ahead for a time when they may lack capacity.

It covers major decisions about someone’s property and affairs, healthcare treatment and where the person lives, as well as everyday decisions about personal care (such as what the person eats) where the person lacks capacity to make those decisions themselves.

The whole Mental Capacity Act 2005 is underpinned by a set of five key principles. These are:

  • A presumption of capacity- Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proven otherwise
  • The right to be supported to make their own decisions- People must be given all appropriate help before anyone concludes that they cannot make their own decisions.
  • Retention of rights- That individuals must retain the right to make what might be seen as eccentric or unwise decisions
  • Best interests- Anything done for or on behalf of people without capacity must be in their best interest
  • Least restrictive- Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms

For further information you can go to and download the guidelines.