Vulnerable adult protections need urgent review
The Law Society of Scotland has proposed major changes to the law for adults with dementia, learning disabilities and other causes of incapacity following a comprehensive review of the legislation and human rights standards intended to protect vulnerable people
Central to the Society’s proposals is that the separate jurisdictions, currently fragmented across courts and tribunals, should be combined in a single tribunal structure, with specialist expertise and local accessibility across Scotland.
The Society has said that the current system frequently and seriously lets down vulnerable people in its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a report by the Scottish Law Commission.
Adrian Ward, convener of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Disability Committee, said “Scotland cannot afford to continue under the current system. Implementation of our proposals would result in important cost savings and vital improvements in service speed and quality.
“As a matter of urgency, Scotland must improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of the combined jurisdictions resulting from the three separate Acts that are intended to protect adults with incapacity, those with mental health issues and others that needs support and protection.
“In particular, the current position under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 is inefficient and ineffective and the fragmented operation across the UK jurisdictions wastes public resources, drains legal aid funds and is expensive, time consuming and stressful for many of those involved in its procedures.”
The Law Society has urged political parties to commit to updating or reviewing specific areas of legislation in its priorities for the next Scottish Parliament.
Ward added: “The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 was world-leading in its time but it now it is in desperate need of updating to ensure people at risk are protected. There needs to be a massive and comprehensive review of all three areas of legislation, taking account of current UN and European human rights standards for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Notes to editors:
The three separate Acts refer to the following: Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
The Law Society’s full response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Scottish Law Commission’s report on adults with incapacity can be found on its website: /for-the-public/law-reform-consultations-and-bills/consultations-2016/mental-health-and-disability-law/
The Law Society’s priorities for the Scottish Elections 2016 document is available at: /priorities2016