Principles to be followed
The Act aims to protect people who lack capacity to make
particular decisions, but also to support their involvement in
making decisions about their own lives as far as they are able to
do so. Anyone authorised to make decisions or take actions on
behalf of someone with impaired capacity must apply the following
Principle 1 - benefit
Any action or decision taken must benefit the person and only be
taken when that benefit cannot reasonably be achieved without
Principle 2 - least restrictive option
Any action or decision taken should be the minimum necessary to
achieve the purpose. It should be the option that restricts the
person's freedom as little as possible.
Principle 3 - take account of the wishes of the
In deciding if an action or decision is to be made, and what
that should be, account must be taken of the present and past
wishes and feelings of the person, as far as these may be
ascertained. Some adults will be able to express their wishes and
feelings clearly, even although they would not be capable of taking
the action or decision which you are considering. For example,
he/she may continue to have opinions about a particular item of
household expenditure without being able to carry out the
The person must be offered help to communicate his or her views.
This might mean using memory aids, pictures, non-verbal
communication, advice from a speech and language therapist or
support from an independent advocate.
Principle 4 - consultation with relevant
Take account of the views of others with an interest in the
person's welfare. The Act lists those who should be consulted
whenever practicable and reasonable. It includes the person's
primary carer, nearest relative, named person, attorney or guardian
(if there is one).
Principle 5 - encourage the person to use existing
skills and develop new skills
Encouraging and allowing the adult to make their own decisions
and manage their own affairs as much as possible and to
develop the skills needed to do so.
Supervision and regulation
Under the Act four public bodies are involved in the regulation
and supervision of those authorised to make decisions on behalf of
a person with incapacity. These are: the Office of the Public
Guardian (Scotland), the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland,
the courts and local authorities.