Decision Support Service launches consultation on draft code of practice for legal practitioners

Decision Support Service launches consultation on draft code of practice for legal practitioners

Áine Flynn

A draft code of practice for legal practitioners on how to engage with and advise people who may lack capacity to make decisions has gone out for consultation.

The Decision Support Service (DSS) has launched the consultation as part of its preparations for the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

The consultation, which will run until 7 January 2022, asks participants to review the draft code of practice and answer a series of questions in an online survey.

A separate consultation has also opened on a draft code of practice providing general guidance on supporting decision-making and assessing capacity.

The purpose of the code of practice for legal practitioners is to provide guidance on good practice in engaging with, and advising, a “relevant person” as defined by the Act. A relevant person is one whose capacity to make a decision is in question or may shortly be in question, or a person who lacks capacity to make a decision.

The codes were drafted by the National Disability Authority (NDA) together with expert input from the profession and have undergone review by the DSS.

Áine Flynn, director of the Decision Support Service, said: “This is an Act that will have a significant impact on the legal profession, with the abolition of wardship and the establishment of a new framework to support people to exercise their right to make decisions.

“This consultation is an important opportunity for practitioners to make their voices heard and set the direction of the final code of practice. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in or a perspective on the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 to participate.

“It is of crucial importance that the consultation can draw on the broadest possible range of views and insights, to help formulate a practical, usable code prior to full commencement of the Act next year.”

A final version of the code will be prepared by the DSS and published by mid-2022, subject to approval by ministers.

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