Supreme Court gives first judgment relating to the Mental Capacity Act 2005

In a case that raised significant questions about the best interests of a patient, the Supreme Court gave judgment on 30 October 2013 in relation to the end-of-life care of David James, a man who had died from his illness on 31 December 2012.

As readers will be aware, the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) broadly provides for decisions to be made on behalf of those aged 16 and over who are unable to make decisions for themselves. A core principle of the MCA is achieving the best interests of the person concerned.

The core of the case raised significant questions. When can it be in the best interests of Mr James to withhold treatment that would keep him alive? On the other hand, when can it be in his best interests to inflict severely invasive treatment upon him that will bring him next to no positive benefit? …

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