1 (in medical law) Where an adult lacks capacity, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides that any decision relating to medical care or treatment should be taken in accordance with that patient's best interests. The decision will be taken by the relevant health care professional or, in the event of a dispute, by the courts or a court-appointed deputy (not, it is to be noted by the patient's relatives). In reaching the decision, the decision-maker is directed by section 4 to consider various factors, including (inter alia) the person's past and present wishes and feelings and the beliefs and values that would be likely to influence his decision if he had capacity. The decision-maker should also, if practical and appropriate, consult those caring for the patient or interested in his welfare. It is to be noted that an alternative to the “best interests” test, that of substituted judgment, is preferred in some jurisdictions (e.g. the USA).
2 (in family law) See welfare principle.