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Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 provides a statutory framework for people who lack capacity to make a decision for themselves and for those who now have capacity but wish to make preparations for a time in the future when they lack capacity.

For further information on the Mental Capacity Act Legislation:

Visit the Department of Health Website

Download and Pri the Mental Capacity Act Leaflet


A Team of professionals has been set up in the Western Trust to provide the necessary supports that this Legislation requires.

Please see details of the MCA Team below should you wish to contact them.


Mental Capacity Act Team, Western Health & Social Care Trust, Modular Building 2, Altnagelvin Hospital Site, Glenshane Road, Derry, BT47 6SB

Telephone:  028 7161 1405


  • Mental Capacity Act Leaflet

    Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 – Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

    What is a deprivation of liberty and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

    A deprivation of liberty is when all of the following occur:

    • A person  is in a place where care or treatment is being provided
    • A person  is not free to leave
    • A person  is under continuous supervision  and control

    A person  can be deprived of liberty in any place, for example, a hospital, care home, supported living accommodation or other setting.

    Even if the person or others, such as a carer or a relative are happy with the care and the person or others want the person to be there, the law says that if the conditions  above are met this is described  as a deprivation of liberty.

    The deprivation  of liberty safeguards is the system to ensure  that a person is only deprived of liberty when it is right to do so.

    What are the rights under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

    • As far as is possible the person must be supported to make any decision  regarding the care and treatment (if the person can make their own decision, the person  cannot  be deprived of liberty).
    • If the person can’t make their own decision, the person  must be included in discussions about the deprivation  of liberty as far as that is possible so that they can give their views and opinions.
    • A person  has the right to make unwise decisions.
    • No assumptions can be made about  the person.
    • The person  has the right to put in place a nominated person who can advise people what they would have wanted and what would be in their best interests.
    • The person  has the right to be told what is happening and be given information about  the Mental Capacity Act.
    • The person  has the right to be given all information  used in making assessments.
    • No one can be deprived of liberty unless all safeguards are met.
    • The person  has the right to challenge any authorisation by applying to the Review Tribunal.

    What are the Safeguards?

    If someone wants to deprive a person of liberty they must make sure the following safeguards are in place:

    • They must believe that the person lacks the mental capacity  to decide  about  the deprivation of liberty and must write this down  on a statement of incapacity.
    • They must believe that a deprivation of liberty is in the person’s  best interests  and write this down.
    • They must believe that a deprivation of liberty will help prevent serious harm coming to the person or serious  physical harm to other people.
    • They must consult  a nominated person.
    • They must have an authorisation for the deprivation of liberty.

    Mental capacity is about whether a person  can understand and appreciate the need for the care and treatment to include restrictions on the right to leave the place where they are.

    Best Interests is about  whether depriving a person  of liberty is, on balance,  the best option having taken special regard to doing what the person would want if  they had the mental capacity to decide for themselves.

    What does a Nominated Person do?

    A nominated person  is someone who can speak up for a person  who lacks capacity. The nominated person cannot make any decisions, but should  make sure that the person’s views are heard when  professionals are making a decision  about  their care.

    They can also help to challenge  a decision and can make applications  to the Review Tribunal.

    Who is the Nominated Person?

    A person  can choose anyone to be the nominated person if they have capacity to make that choice. That could be a family member, friend, or anyone  else.

    If no one is nominated, there is a list of people who could act as the nominated person.

    What is an authorisation?

    There are two ways of authorising a deprivation  of liberty.

    If  a person  who lacks capacity is in hospital, the authorisation is called a short term detention. Two professionals will look at the case and can authorise  a deprivation of liberty for 14 days which can be extended  for another 14 days.

    If  a deprivation of liberty happens outside hospital, a Trust Panel must authorise  the deprivation. They have a maximum  of 7 days to make a decision and can authorise  a deprivation of liberty for up to 6 months.

    A trust panel authorisation can be extended for 6 months initially and then for 12 months at a time.

    How does a deprivation of liberty end?

    If  any of the safeguards  are no longer met, then a deprivation  of liberty must stop. That means it must stop if any of the following happens:

    • The person  regains capacity.
    • It is no longer in the best interests.
    • It is no longer needed  to prevent serious harm.
    • An authorisation is no longer valid or has lapsed.

    What is the Review Tribunal?

    A person  deprived of their liberty has the right to appeal their detention to a Review Tribunal.

    The Tribunal is an independent panel that reviews deprivations of liberty to ensure that they are lawful and that the criteria for detention  have been met.

    When the Tribunal has considered the case it may choose  to end the detention or it may decide to take no further action.

    If the detained person is unable to apply to the Tribunal they can ask their nominated person to apply to the Tribunal on their behalf.

    If the detained person lacks the capacity to understand that they have a right of appeal to the Tribunal their case will automatically be referred to the Attorney General who can then ask the Tribunal to consider it.

    Referrals can also be made by the Department of Health, and the Master (Care & Protection). Deprivations of liberty that have been in place for two years but have not been reviewed will also be referred to the Tribunal for consideration.

    The Tribunal will also consider applications about appointing or removing a nominated person.

    Useful Contacts and Information

    There is more detailed information and guidance, including an easy read version, on the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards website:


    This information can also be obtained by contacting the Trust where a person is deprived of liberty.

    Further information about the Tribunal is available from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service.

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