C7.3.1 Gillick Competence

C7.3.1 In law, people over the age of 16 are presumed to have capacity to consent (Family Law Reform Act 1969; Mental Capacity Act 2005), and those under this age are not. However, the principle of Gillick competence may apply to children under 16. In the case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority 1985, it was held that a child under 16 has capacity to consent to treatment if he or she is able to understand what is proposed (including the consequences of non-treatment if he or she refuses). The degree of understanding is judged according to the seriousness of the decision the child is being asked to make.