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There are five key principles that form the basis of the Act. These principles are of such importance that they are set out at the start, before the legal test to determine if a person lacks mental capacity.

These five principles are:

1. Presumption of capacity

2. Support to make a decision

3. Ability to make unwise decisions

4. Best interest

5. Least restrictive

The 4th and 5th principles apply only when a person has been assessed to not have mental capacity for the decision in question. Whilst it is not a principle of the Act, it is key to remember that mental capacity is time and decision specific.