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Assessment of Mental Capacity

A Practical Guide for Doctors and Lawyers, 5th edition
The British Medical Association and the Law Society, General Editor: Alex Ruck Keene
Availability: Published

Doctors, lawyers and other professionals often need to make an assessment of a person’s mental capacity. This book helps to support these professionals by giving them a fuller understanding of the law in all situations where an assessment of capacity may be needed, clarifying the roles of professionals and providing an aid to communication both between them and with the person being assessed. Some of those situations are covered by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, but some are covered by other tests set down by the law.

Written by experts from a variety of disciplines, Assessment of Mental Capacity combines clarity as to the law with a practical, jargon-free approach to provide guidelines on issues ranging from medical treatment to making a will, sexual decision-making and capacity in the context of the Mental Health Act 1983.

The fifth edition has been updated and expanded to include:

  • recent case law, including the first Supreme Court case on the approach to mental capacity in the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
  • research-based guidance about complex capacity assessment;
  • the changes to be brought in by the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019; and
  • a new chapter on supporting legal capacity taking into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It provides an essential source of guidelines and information, including extracts from Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Code of Practice, and is an indispensable tool for health and legal professionals.


Written in a practical and jargon-free way, the book effortlessly guides practitioners through the sometimes impenetrable world of capacity assessments. This is the essential book for every private client solicitor.

Ian Bond, Head of Private Client at Thursfields


PART I: Introduction; PART II: Legal principles; PART III: Legal tests of capacity; PART IV: Practical aspects of the assessment of mental capacity; Appendices. 

About the Author

Alex Ruck Keene is a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers and a Visiting Professor at King’s College London. He has appeared in cases involving the Mental Capacity Act 2005 at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. He trains and writes extensively about mental capacity issues.

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Mental health


July 2022


The Law Society




388 Pages