Changing law: mental capacity legislation
Changing law: mental capacity legislation

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Changing law: mental capacity legislation

3.4 Review and amendment

Perhaps because of concerns about controversial medical decisions, the government did not introduce legislation for several more years.

The important thing to understand about the legislative process is that the original proposals can change at every stage. A provision may be added or taken away. A policy decision may be reversed. A different legislative phrase may be used, which may turn out to be highly significant when the legislation is applied, or considered by the courts. If you are faced with a particularly important provision, the meaning of which is crucial to your case, you might need to trace its history going back from the section of the Act, through the Bill stages, and the various debates. This will give you a much richer idea of the law’s meaning, than looking only at the end product, the final Act of Parliament which becomes law.

Mental capacity: Bill to Act

The following links track the progress of the Bill to the Act; you do not need to go through these in detail.

  • A draft Bill [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] was eventually produced (2003), and considered by a joint committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
  • The draft Bill was amended as a result of the report (House of Lords and House of Commons, 2003) and then the Mental Capacity Bill was formally introduced in the 2003–04 session of parliament.
  • There were further parliamentary debates and amendments.
  • Finally, more than 15 years after the Law Commission began its review of Incapacity law, and 10 years after it recommended new legislation, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 received Royal Assent.

But Royal Assent is not the end of the story, as you will see in Section 3.5.

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