Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
Wards of Court
112. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that the ward of court system is operating effectively for the benefit of wards; the progress on reform of the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51706/17]
As the Deputy is aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in wards of court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the Office of the Wards of Court, which is supervised by the Registrar of Wards of Court, manages the day to day administration of wardship matters, including the maintenance of court files, the oversight of all cases pre-wardship and ensuring that the directions of the President of the High Court are carried out.
The Courts Service has further informed me that the wards of court system is operating effectively. However, as the Deputy may be aware, the legislation governing persons who are wards of court dates back to 1871 and it has been recognised for some time that reforms were needed to update the law in this area. Therefore the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 has been introduced to provide a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties.
Part 6 of the 2015 Act provides that adults currently in wardship will transition to the new decision-making support arrangements provided for in the Act on a phased basis over 3 years from the commencement of Part 6 of the Act. Once Part 6 is operational, each ward will be reviewed by the wardship court in accordance with the new system. A ward who is found to have capacity will be discharged from wardship. A ward who continues to have capacity needs will be discharged from wardship and offered the decision-making support option most appropriate to his or her needs.
The specific decision making supports available under the Act to adults with capacity difficulties will be decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers and decision-making representatives, all of whom will be supervised by the Director of the Decision Support Service.