Capacity Bill

The Assisted Decision Making (capacity) Bill 2013 & how it will impact your life

The new Assisted Decision Making (capacity) Bill 2013 is a very complex piece of legislation which has yet to be passed, however, it will bring Ireland in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The aims of the Bill is to support people who have difficulties in exercising their decision making abilities. We all make decision throughout the day and so do people with disabilities. The Bill will stress the importance of a person’s preference and try assist them in achieving this.

Current Law

At present the current law that is enforced is the Lunacy Regulations (Ireland) Act of 1871 (lovely wording!!). To say this Act is outdated is a dramatic understatement. This Act is based around people having full capacity OR no capacity! As we all are very familiar with our own loved one, we know that this is ridiculous as there is no such thing as “no capacity” and certainly a sliding scale towards “full capacity” in many areas.

As the law stands at the moment – when any person turns 18 then they automatically become an adult. The parents/carers who assisted their children in life decision from birth to 17 are then cut from the picture in the eyes of the law, regardless of the disability.

The new Bill propose to start with the presumption that everyone has the capacity to make decisions, with the right support, a person with a disability will be able to make decisions on important aspects of their lives such as

  • Managing money
  • Medical treatment
  • Where a person wants to live
  • Who a person wants to live with
  • Make their own travel arrangements


A person will now have to show that they lack capacity and their ability to make a decision is impaired. The Bill will then give people 3-main avenues going forward;

  1. Assistance Decision – a representative will present the information in a clear and understandable manner so a person with a disability can make an informed choice.
  2. Co-Decision – Family or friends supports a person with a disability to come to their own decision.
  3. Decision Representative – A Circuit Court appointed representative will make decision on behalf of a person with a disability.