24th February 2020

Capacity Law and Refusing Treatment

At Home

Capacity is in reference to a person’s decision making ability. The Law’s starting point is the assumption that all people aged 16 and over have ‘capacity’ to make decisions for themselves.

There are five core principles in the Law that everyone must follow. These are often referred to as:

  1. Assumption of capacity
  2. Practicable steps
  3. Unwise decisions
  4. Best interests
  5. Less restrictive way

If you break down the Law, the following key points emerge:

  • Any person, aged 16 or over, is assumed to have capacity unless proved otherwise in relation to their decision
  • A person will not be treated as unable to make personal decisions unless all practicable decisions to assist them have been unsuccessful
  • A person should not be treated as unable to make a decision purely because they are making what some may consider an ‘unwise’ decision
  • An act done, or a decision made, on behalf of the person lacking capacity must be done in their best interests
  • Before an act or decision is made which could be considered restrictive to the person’s rights or freedoms, it must be considered how this could be carried out in the least restrictive way to the person who lacks capacity

The Law came into force in 2018. If you want to find out more about the Capacity and Self-Determination Law, visit the gov.je website.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to choose who makes decisions for you in the future if you lack capacity and have not chosen an attorney through a lasting power of attorney. You must be aged 18 or older to make an LPA.

An LPA is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make your own decisions.

If you decided not to make an LPA then the States of Jersey will make decisions for you when you lose capacity. People like doctors and social workers would do this through best interests.

Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment

An advance decision to refuse treatment (ADRT) allows a person aged 16 or over to record treatments they would not wish to have in the future. This is vital if you were to lack capacity and others were to make decisions on your behalf.

To use an ADRT to refuse a life-sustaining treatment, it must be written, signed and witnessed. An ADRT cannot request receiving a treatment or to have your life ended. You can use a statement of wishes and feelings to request, but not insist upon, treatments.


Further information can be found on the gov.je website