Advance Care Directives and the Position in Ireland: What lessons can Ireland learn from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe?

  •  Laura Donnellan    


An Advance care directive entitles a person to request in advance either the refusal of or consent to certain medical treatment if that person is not competent to consent or refuse at the time such refusal or consent is required.  The 2003 Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Law and the Elderly briefly mentioned advance directives.  However, the Paper decided to leave the issue to a future Paper that would give a more comprehensive analysis.  There is no Irish legislation on the matter and consequently the legal position is unclear.  The English Mental Capacity Act 2005 has given recognition to advance directives under section 24.  It is interesting to note that only refusal is covered by the Act.  The 2005 Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper on Vulnerable Adults discusses the issue of advance directives in more detail.  This Paper will examine the Irish position of advance directives.  The British Mental Capacity Act and recent case law will provide a comparative analysis.  The UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities will also be examined.

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