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The ability, capability, or fitness to do something; a legal right, power, or competency to perform some act. An ability to comprehend both the nature and consequences of one's acts.

Capacity relates to soundness of mind and to an intelligent understanding and perception of one's actions. It is the power either to create or to enter into a legal relation under the same conditions or circumstances as a person of sound mind or normal intelligence would have the power to create or to enter.

A person of normal intelligence and sound mind has the capacity to dispose of his or her property by will as he or she sees fit.

A capacity defense is used in both criminal and civil actions to describe a lack of fundamental ability to be accountable for one's action that nullifies the element of intent when intent is essential to the action, thereby relieving a person of responsibility for it.

An individual under duress lacks the capacity to contract; a child under the age of seven accused of committing a crime lacks criminal capacity.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the ability of a person to effect a legal transaction. The paradigm natural person of full age and sound mind usually has full capacity. Others face limitations from time to time and system to system, such as, for example, the young, the mentally ill and corporations.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CAPACITY. This word, in the law sense, denotes some ability, power, qualification, or competency of persons, natural, or artificial, for the performance of civil acts, depending on their state or condition, as defined or fixed by law; as, the capacity to devise, to bequeath, to grant or convey lands; to take; or to take. and hold lands to make a contract, and the like. 2 Com. Dig. 294; Dane's Abr. h.t.
     2. The constitution requires that the president, senators, and representatives should have attained certain ages; and in the case of the senators and representatives, that out these they have no capacity to serve in these offices.
     3. All laws which regulate the capacity of persons to contract, are considered personal laws; such are the laws which relate to minority and majority; to the powers of guardians or parents, or the disabilities of coverture. The law of the domicil generally governs in cases of this kind. Burge. on Sureties, 89.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
She added: "If an adult lacks sufficient mental capacity to make decisions for themselves the council can, if necessary, make an application to the court to appoint someone - called a deputy - to act in their best interests, or to seek a decision on specific issues.
If the shareholder loses mental capacity and can no longer work, the ability to provide his or her dependents with a regular income to live on.
The case shows the importance of mental capacity in marriage.
This guide outlines the key principles of mental health and mental capacity law in the UK and their application in everyday social work practice with adults.
P has been diagnosed with a number of conditions, including cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome and as a result he lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about his own welfare.
You need to set up an LPA while you still have mental capacity and the LPA was introduced to replace the old system of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) in October 2007.
But in some cases, for example where people suffer from dementia or have a profound learning disability, they may lack the mental capacity to consent to the care or treatment they need.
This requirement now exists in all cases and is not limited to instances where a donor has lost mental capacity, as it was under the EPA regime.
The conference, called Mental Capacity Act the Challenge: Safeguarding Adults, Ethics and Liability, includes presentations by barrister and analyst Belinda Schwer, psychiatrist Julian Hughes and solicitor Samia Mushtaq.
He further stated that the deceased's mental state was impaired to such a degree that he was incapable of comprehending the importance of any issues before him and would not have had the mental capacity to comprehend the contract of marriage.
It is being introduced within the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and will be a superior court of record with all the powers of the High Court.
Eileen Loughridge a senior partner at Loughridge Bowler, in the Quadrant, says that while much has been written on the more sensational aspects of the Mental Capacity Act, other measures with huge implications for the elderly and infirm have been ignored.