Mental capacity

The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 applies to people aged 16 and over in Scotland.

The Act aims to protect people who cannot make a decision for themselves. It means that a person can plan ahead for a time when they may not be able to make decisions themselves.

It clarifies who can make decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about it. There are many parts to the Act, including parts on Powers of Attorney.

The Act states that a person lacks capacity if they are unable to act, make decisions, communicate decisions, understand decisions or remember making decisions. This may be because of a mental disorder or a physical disability that prevents communication. The Act also takes into account that a person’s mental capacity can change, for example if their health improves.

A person will have capacity if they can meet one of the following criteria:

  • Understand what the treatment is, its purpose and why it is being suggested.
  • Understand the benefits or risks of the treatment or if there are alternatives.
  • Understand what will happen if they do not have the treatment.
  • Remember the information for long enough to use or weigh it up so that they can make a decision.