News Item

February 2020

New book - Assessment of Mental Capacity - A New Zealand Guide for Doctors and Lawyers

Assessment of Mental Capacity is a much needed practical guide for medical and legal practitioners responsible for assessing mental capacity – for when an individual’s ability to make their own decisions is impaired due to dementia, a learning or intellectual disability, mental illness or brain injury.

The kinds of decisions and laws where capacity assessment may be required are profiled in the book in case studies. These relate to medical treatment, personal relationships, financial affairs, wills, dealing with addiction etc.

The book is written by experts from a range of disciplines including law, medicine and ethics and is based on the Toolkit for Assessing Capacity published online in 2019 by the authors, and included in this book.

Assessment of Mental Capacity combines an explanation of the law, case studies, how mental capacity is assessed and what supporting people with impaired capacity means in practice. It is intended to provide guidance for family and carers, as well as legal and medical professionals.

The book recognises the growing impact of human rights conventions on mental capacity law and practice, and the importance of addressing the need for cultural diversity in dealing with capacity issues.

Family Court Judge Mary O’Dwyer’s summation in the foreword of the book emphasises its strong approach to human rights issues “This book will assist them (legal and medical professionals, support persons and families) in discharging their obligations justly, with compassion, and with the rights and dignity of the vulnerable at the forefront of their considerations”.

More information about the book

NZ Law Foundation provided $35,000 towards the research and publication of this book, and contributed to the authors’ earlier publication of the Toolkit for Assessing Capacity