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Mentally Disabled Man’s Wedding Plans Receive High Court Blessing
It is a very sad fact that those who suffer from mental disabilities may lack the legal capacity to get married or to make a will. However, in a guideline decision which emphasised the right to personal autonomy, the High Court found that a man who had been afflicted by a brain injury since he was a baby had the ability to do both.
The man, aged in his 20s, was 12 months old when his father deliberately injected him with insulin. He suffered from Asperger's syndrome, learning difficulties and epilepsy as a result. He had, however, formed a relationship with a woman, with whom he lived and whom he wished to marry.
In finding that he had the capacity to contract a lawful marriage, the Court noted the strength of his relationship and better than expected improvements in his condition. In a statement to the Court, the man had stated that his brain injury did not define him and had expressed his strong desire to achieve independence.
The Court also ruled that he had the capacity to make a will and to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement with his intended wife. He had received substantial compensation for his injuries from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and the Court ruled that it was in his best interests to be informed of the extent of his assets.
The Court noted an incident in which he had lost money after a man with a criminal record took advantage of him. In those circumstances, the Court found that the time had not yet come for him to be granted full control over his finances. That role would continue to be fulfilled by a solicitor on his behalf, but the Court urged that everything be done to assist him in acquiring the skills he would need to attain full financial independence.