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
Some adults will be able to express their wishes and feelings
clearly, although they would not be capable of taking the action or
decision which you are considering. For example, they may continue
to have opinions about a particular item of household expenditure,
without being able to carry out the transaction personally.
The person must be offered help to communicate their views. This
might mean using memory aids, pictures, non-verbal communication,
advice from a speech and language therapist, or support from an
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 and, as much as possible, 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.