Vulnerable adults – Singaporean law reform (and a chance here)

The Government of Singapore has just (18 May) passed a Vulnerable Adults Act (the link here is to the Bill which I understand was passed without amendment).  Whether or not your blood runs cold or hot at the thought of another jurisdiction putting in place a statutory framework, you may at a minimum care to ask yourself whether the statutory principles in s.4 of the VAA Act are ones that we might want to enshrine in legislation here:

(1)  In performing any duty or exercising any power under this Act in relation to a vulnerable adult, the Director and every protector, approved welfare officer and enforcement officer must have regard to the following principles:

(a) the duty is being performed or the power is being exercised for the purpose of protecting the vulnerable adult from abuse, neglect and self‑neglect;

(b) a vulnerable adult, where not lacking mental capacity, is generally best placed to decide how he or she wishes to live and whether or not to accept any assistance;

(c) if a vulnerable adult lacks mental capacity, the vulnerable adult’s views (whether past or present), wishes, feelings, values and beliefs, where reasonably ascertainable, must be considered;

(d) regard must be had to whether the purpose for which the duty is being performed or the power is being exercised can be achieved in a way that is less restrictive of the vulnerable adult’s rights and freedom of action;

(e) in all matters relating to the administration or application of this Act, the welfare and best interests of the vulnerable adult must be the first and paramount consideration.

In the interim, and as discussed here, I would remind people that the Government’s Domestic Abuse consultation closes on 31 May and may – through identifying a concept of ‘proximity abuse’ – provide an alternative route to providing relief in certain of these cases.  An updated draft response to the consultation is here should you wish to adopt/adapt it.

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