Understanding the Key Principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Understanding the Key Principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) is a fundamental piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that safeguards the rights and welfare of individuals who may lack mental capacity. Enacted to provide a legal framework for decision-making on behalf of those unable to make their own decisions, the MCA is underpinned by several key principles. In this blog, we will explore the importance of these principles and how they impact the lives of vulnerable individuals.


  1. Presumption of Capacity

The first key principle of the MCA is the presumption of capacity. This principle highlights that every person is presumed to have the capacity to make decisions unless it can be proven otherwise. This is fundamental in maintaining an individual’s independence and avoiding unnecessary restrictions. It ensures that decision-making processes start with the assumption that individuals can make choices about their own lives.


  1. The right to be supported when making decisions

This principle of the MCA lay emphasis on the importance of supporting individuals in making their own decisions. Even if a person lacks capacity for a specific decision, efforts should be made to enable them to participate as fully as possible in the decision-making process. This may involve providing information in an accessible format, using communication aids, or involving advocates to represent the person’s wishes.



  1. An unwise decision cannot be seen as a wrong decision

This principle acknowledges that individuals have the right to make unwise decisions. Capacity is not determined by whether the decision made is considered wise by others; rather, it focuses on the person’s ability to understand the decision and its consequences. This principle reinforces the importance of respecting a person’s choices even if they are unconventional.


  1. Best Interests must be at the centre of all decision making

This principle centres on making decisions in the individual’s best interests. When someone lacks the capacity to make a specific decision, the MCA requires that any actions taken, or decisions made on the person’s behalf must be in their best interests. This principle places a significant emphasis on considering the person’s wishes, feelings, beliefs, and values, as well as consulting with relevant parties, such as family and healthcare professionals. It ensures that the individual’s rights and well-being remain the central focus.


  1. Least Restrictive Option

The MCA promotes the least restrictive option as a key principle. This means that any action taken, or decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive option possible. This principle discourages unnecessary restrictions or interventions, encouraging the exploration of alternative solutions that respect the individual’s independence and minimise interference in their life.


The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is a essential piece of legislation that protects the rights and well-being of individuals who may lack capacity. Its key principles, including the presumption of capacity, best interests, least restrictive option, unwise decisions, and supporting decision-making, are essential for upholding the dignity and autonomy of those it serves. By adhering to these principles, society can ensure that vulnerable individuals receive the care and support they need while respecting their rights and choices.


The Private Client Team advise clients on matters regarding capacity every day. Should you need to speak to one of the team, you can contact them on 01206 577676.

For more information

Contact us on 01206 577676 or you can email [email protected]

Hair strand testing for drugs

Hair strand testing for drugs

Drug testing can screen for the use of illegal drugs, as well as the misuse of prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and legal substances including alcohol and tobacco.

There are various methods we use to test for drugs.  Hair strand drug tests identify drugs or their break-down substances in a sample of hair and is a non-invasive, painless and reliable procedure..

Once a drug is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body.  Scientists can analyse hair samples to detect these trace amounts of drugs and their metabolites, which are substances produced by the body when a drug is taken and can be used to show drug use.    A laboratory analysis can then provide an interpretation of the levels of drugs detected.

During hair strand drug testing, scissors are used to remove a small sample of hair.   While drug use and misuse may not actually appear in the hair until 7 to 10 days after drug exposure, once it enters the hair it remains for weeks, months, or even years.   

How long drugs remain detectable in hair is called the ‘window of detection’. The length of the detection window varies based on a number of factors, including the amount and frequency of drug use or misuse and the rate at which the drug is metabolized in the body. Some drugs continue to enter new hair growth for months after a person’s last drug exposure.

The window of detection also varies based on the amount of hair tested. Although longer samples of hair can be tested for drug exposure over a longer period of time, a standard sample of hair from the scalp is 1.5 inches and provides information about approximately 90 days of past drug exposure.   So roughly, 1cm = 1 month.   A hair sample taken from a different part of the body where hair grows more slowly may have a detection window of up to 12 months.

The cost of the testing can vary so shop around.

For more information

Contact us on 01206 577676 or you can email [email protected]