The new Austrian Adult Protection Law of 2018

Abstract: on 1st of July 2018 the new Austrian Adult Protection Law (Erwachsenenschutzrecht) replaced the former Guardianship Law (Sachwalterrecht 1984). The main goal was to strengthen the autonomy of people with mental illness or comparable impairment. Austria ratified the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008. Subsequently several aspects of the Austrian Guardianship Law were criticized by various institutions. This led to a reform process initiated by the Ministry of Justice. For the first time people with disabilities were part of the reform process and therefore the new law is still strongly accepted by them. The changes are comprehensive. Paternalistic aspects, like the automatic loss of the capacity to conclude contracts, were abolished and the autonomy has been strengthened, e.g. through the commitment to supported decision making. A 4-pillar model was created, consisting of the Enduring Power of Attorney and the Elective, Statutory and Court-appointed Representation. All forms of representation are registered in the Central Austrian Representation Register. Adult Protection Associations serve as the central point of contact for affected persons and relatives. The duties of the courts are limited to the appointment of representatives as a last resort, if alternatives or other forms of representation are not possible or available, as well as to the control of adult representatives.


Keywords: adult protection law; guardianship; enduring power of attorney; self-determination; UNCRPD; legal capacity; supported decision-making; elective representation; statutory representation; court-appointed representation; adult protection associations; Central Austrian Representation Register.