Mental capacity act

Mental Capacity Act Singapore

The mental capacity laws can be divided into three different eras, which include pre-1965; 1965-2007 and 2007 onwards. English common law governs the significant laws and legal systems of Singapore. Before independence or pre-1965 era had the British rules completely in place but after the liberation, amendments have been made in the mental capacity Act Singapore, which helps in incorporating the new changes and impacts in the system.We’ll cover a broad overview of the Mental Capacity Act Singapore to make it more transparent for you.

Purpose of this Act:

The Mental Capacity Act was passed by the Parliament in 2008 and it came into effect in 2010.

How to judge the mental capacity of an individual?

In order to judge the mental capacity of an individual, the following statuary principles have been provided by MCA Singapore. We are highlighting them so that you can have a better understanding of how the law sees the mentally incapable individuals.

  1. Every individual who has not to be declared incapable must be considered capable.
  2. The inability to decision-making must be declared when the necessary steps to help him/her in the process of decision-making have been taken without any success.
  3. Making an unwise decision does not include in the incapability of the decision-making definition under the law.
  4. All decisions made for the incapable person must be in his/her best interest.
  5. All efforts must be levied to help the incapable individual in the best possible way with a particular preference given to the right of freedom and right of action. However, if they need to be violated, it must be done in the most restrictive way as possible.

Assessment of the mental capacity:

While assessing the mental capacity of the individuals under the MCA, a doctor is appointed. The doctor is usually told about the context and scenario, which is under consideration for the declaration of the mental capacity. This is done to ensure that doctor undertakes the examination while being fully aware.

There is a set criterion highlighted in the Mental Capacity Act to help the doctor in finalizing the decision. This criterion can be remembered by mnemonic “CRRC,” which is being highlighted below:

  1. Comprehension of the information relevant to the particular situation at hand
  2. Remembering the information being told
  3. Reasoning with information to deduce a conclusion
  4. Communication of the decision made in writing, either verbal or sign language.

With these criteria in mind, the doctors are expected to analyze the mental condition of the patient and make the decision

After analyzing the mental condition of the individual, the doctor submits a report to the court, and the judges make the end decision about the capacity of the individual. The judges can overrule the report from the doctor if they feel so.

Challenges in determining the mental condition:

MCA also highlights the challenges in determining the mental condition or capacity of the individuals. These challenges include:

Temporary mental condition:

In some cases, the mental incapacity of the individual could be temporary. It can be because of a trauma or certain medication. It is a challenge for the doctor to find out if the incapability is permanent or if there are chances of recovery of the individual before declaring him/her incapable.

Unwise decision:

There are chances that a person could be making the unwise choice, even if all the information is clear. In such a situation, it is a challenge for the doctor to differentiate between the incapability of making a decision and making an unwise decision. In the eyes of the law, the rash decision is not included in the mental incapability definition.

Best Interest Principle:

The best interest principle should be employed in making a decision when a person is declared mentally incapable. If the patient or the court has not already nominated an individual to make the decision, then the doctor is to make this decision keeping this principle in mind.

Usually, the preference and values of the patients are accounted for before making the decision. In some cases, opinion about the likes/dislikes can be taken from relatives and family members. Furthermore, a second opinion from another consultant or ethics committee is ensured to see that the interests of the individual who is being declared incapable are fully protected.

Summing up:

With this Mental Capacity Act Singapore in practice, the rights of the mentally incapable have been tried to be protected. In case you need further information regarding the act or facing any specific situation on which you need a legal opinion, then you can get in touch with us, and we can help you by analyzing the case legally.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In view of increasing mental illness as the population ages, the Mental Capacity Act in Singapore was passed to facilitate people who lose the mental capacity to make decisions for their best interests. This act allows people to plan ahead and appoint someone as a “donee” to make decisions for them if they lose mental capacity.

  1. A person is considered mentally capable unless it is proved otherwise.
  2. A person must not be treated as mentally incapable unless all practical steps which have been taken to help him make decisions have failed.
  3. All actions taken under the Mental Capacity Act in Singapore should be in the person's best interests.
  4. A person cannot be deemed as mentally incapable merely because he makes an unwise decision.
  5. Decisions should be made to ensure that it is less restrictive of the person’s rights and freedom of action.

If a person meets one or more of these following criteria, he is not considered to be mentally capable of making a decision for himself:

  • Unable to comprehend the information relevant to the decision.
  • Unable to retain the information.
  • Unable to weigh up the information.
  • Unable to communicate the decision they have made.

The Mental Capacity Act in Singapore is used to protect individuals who lack the capacity to make a sound decision from abuse or exploitation. A person (donor) will plan and appoint a representative (donee) to make decisions on his behalf when the need arises. The law will respect the choices and decisions made by individuals who have mental capacity. The court can make declarations whether the decisions were made in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity.