Wards of Court

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will bring about important changes for people who have been made a Ward of Court. This section tells you about these changes.

If a person is unable to make decisions about their property, money and other affairs, because of capacity difficulties, the only current option is for that person to be made a Ward of Court. This is a legal process set out under the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871.

An application for a person to be made a Ward of Court is made to the High Court. The courts will think about whether or not the person is of ‘unsound mind’ and ‘incapable of managing their own affairs’.

When a person is made a Ward of Court, it means that they are no longer legally allowed to make decisions about their lives. This can include everyday decisions.

A Committee is appointed by the High Court to control the Ward’s property and money and their overall care. The President of the High Court must consent to medical treatment for the Ward. A Ward of Court cannot leave the country or make a will without the permission of the President of the High Court. 

The Office of Wards of Court is responsible for wardship matters.

What will happen to current Wards of Court?

When the new law comes into effect, people will no longer be able to be made a Ward of Court.

All current Wards of Court will be reviewed and discharged from wardship within three years. The courts will decide whether or not a current Ward of Court needs a decision supporter.

For further information on Wards of Court and what will happen under the new law, you can contact the Office of Wards of Court in the Courts Service.

Office of Wards of Court

15-24 Phoenix Street North
Smithfield
Dublin 7

Tel: + 353 1 888 6189
Email: wards@courts.ie
Website: www.courts.ie

What about wards under the age of 18?

Wards who are aged under 18 at the commencement of the Act will also have their cases reviewed at the appropriate time. If a ward reaches the age of 18 within two and a half years after commencement of the Act, then their case will also be reviewed. This review will be conducted before the end of the three-year transitional period.

Once the three-year transitional period has expired, any ward who subsequently reaches the age of 18, will have their case reviewed within six months.

What will the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 mean for Wards of Court?

Under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (‘the 2015 Act’) the current wardship system will be replaced by a new decision support framework.

The 2015 Act is not yet operational but is expected to be commenced in full in June 2022.

Read more about What will the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 mean for Wards of Court?

What will the review process mean for wards of court?

A bill to amend the 2015 Act is being progressed at present. Most amendments will be minor in nature, but it will include provisions to ensure that current adult wards will have:

  • an opportunity to be heard by the wardship court when their cases are being reviewed; and
  • access to representation and legal aid.

If the wardship court declares that the ward lacks capacity, this declaration will be kept under review afterwards by the Circuit Court.

Read more about What will the review process mean for wards of court?

Declarations of the Wardship Court about Capacity

The wardship court will make declarations about the ward’s capacity. Where appropriate, the wardship court may make orders so that a former ward may transition to one of the new supports available under the 2015 Act.

What will this mean for committees?

The committee is a person appointed by the wardship court to make decisions on behalf of the ward with the approval of the court. The role of the committee will end once the ward is discharged from wardship.

The committee is one of the people who may make the application to discharge the person from wardship.

The former committee may be appointed by the former ward as a decision-making assistant or co-decision-maker under the 2015 Act. The wardship court may also appoint a former committee as a decision-making representative under the 2015 Act.

What will this mean for funds in court?

The funds now held in court under wardship will be paid out from court to the former ward. The future management of these funds will depend on the new arrangements (if any) put in place and this will be decided by the wardship court on a case-by-case basis.

Read more about What will this mean for funds in court?