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BUV v BUU and another and another matter [2019] SGHCF 15

Outcome: Application allowed


1            The plaintiff filed an application under the Mental Capacity Act 2008 (“MCA”), seeking, inter alia, a declaration that the second defendant was unable to make decisions as to her personal welfare and her property and affairs, and for the appointment of deputies.

Court’s Decision:

2            The test for capacity in s 4(1) of the MCA has a functional and clinical component, the functional aspect being that the subject must be unable to make a decision, and the clinical aspect being that this inability must be caused by a mental impairment. While expert evidence may address the clinical component of the test, it is not determinative. The expert evidence tells the court what view of the subject’s mental impairment emerges from her symptoms, but the functional component is a judgment for the court to make based on the evidence as to the degree her mental functioning is compromised. To this end, answers in cross-examination should be considered in assessing the functional component, to shed light on (a) whether the subject is able to retain, understand, use and weigh information relevant to decisions and (b) her symptoms as might shed light on the nature of her mental impairment: at [30].

3            The requirements under ss 5(1)(a) to 5(1)(d) of the MCA 2008 are to be read conjunctively. A person must be able to understand, retain, and weigh the relevant information, and then communicate his decision if he is found able to make a decision. A deficiency in any one of these requirements would mean he lacks mental capacity. The court’s assessment as to mental capacity should be made holistically: at [31].

4            On the facts, the Court was satisfied that the second defendant lacked mental capacity, and granted the prayers sought by the plaintiff: at [122].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.


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