About the project
The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee reviewed the current law relating to civil inquiries into the status and affairs of mentally incapacitated persons under the Mental Disorders and Treatment Act (Chapter 178, 1985 Revised Edition). In particular, the Committee considered the following:
- The procedure to be applied by courts of civil jurisdiction in determining whether any person subject to the court’s jurisdiction is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself or herself, and his or her affairs (a ‘subject’).
- The kind of orders which a court may or should be empowered to make in the course and on completion of such inquiries, including orders for the provision and care of subjects, and orders for the proper administration and protection of their property and rights.
- The kind of orders which a court may or should be empowered to make for the protection of any person who may be vulnerable by reason of the unsoundness of mind of a subject.
- The powers of a court to require persons subject to the court’s jurisdiction who are parties directly or indirectly (including witnesses and complainants) to civil or criminal proceedings to submit themselves for psychiatric assessment, and to make orders for the institution of inquiries into the mental health of such parties as the court may consider necessary.
The Committee recommended, among other things:
- That the inquiry procedure for determining if a person is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself or herself, and his or her affairs (currently governed by Part I of the Mental Disorders and Treatment Act), should be completely revised. For instance, mental disorders or illnesses should not be equated or automatically linked to mental incapacity; it should be made clear that the object of the inquiry is the best interests of the subject in respect of his or her care, welfare, treatment and rehabilitation; and the procedure should provide for the least amount of intrusion and restriction on a subject’s personal life and decision-making capability as is consistent with providing a framework of basic care and protection for the subject and his or her assets.
- That legislation should provide for the recognition and registration of advance powers of attorney granted by subjects in advance of becoming incompetent or incapacitated. Under this scheme, subjects should be able to specify who should be (in effect) the guardians of their person and the trustees of their assets upon their lapsing into incapacity. The law will then direct the court to have regard to their wishes and give effect to the advance powers of attorney as effectively as possible in a mental capacity inquiry.
Project status: Completed
- The report was published in November 1999.
- Parliament implemented many of the report’s recommendations by repealing the Mental Disorders and Treatment Act and enacting the Mental Capacity Act 2008 (No 22 of 2008; now Chapter 177A, 2010 Revised Edition) (in place of Part I of the former Act) and the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2008 (No 21 of 2008; now Chapter 178A, 2012 Revised Edition) (in place of Parts II and III of the former Act) on 15 September 2008. In particular, lasting powers of attorney were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act. Both Acts came into force on 1 March 2010.
- The report was cited in the following works:
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Areas of law
◾ Family law
Click on the image above to view the report
Last updated 12 June 2019