Natural Persons and Legal Capacity

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Natural Persons as Individuals A 'natural person' is someone who is born, lives and dies according to natural processes. When born, a person has rights as a child. The community expects that a child will accept increasing responsibility with increasing age until reaching a full responsibility at the age of majority. The age of majority is determined by statute and generally occurs at the age of 18 years in Australia. At this age, an individual acquires particular rights and duties that include a right to vote, enter into contracts, own property and make a will. Before reaching the age of majority, the law regards individuals as children. Generally, parents have some say in how they care for their natural or adopted children. However, parental control is not not absolute. Basic education for children is compulsory, and civil authorities and courts may intervene if there is concern for the welfare of a child. Moreover. intervention of the Family Court may become necessary if people cannot agree. Evidentiary Requirements Proof of identity, birth, marriage or death may be important in deciding what are the rights and responsibilities of individuals in their various undertakings. In modern society, the system of public registers provides evidence for use in legal and other transactions. Thus, a certificate of birth may be necessary to prove age and therefore eligibility to receive the rights and undertake the duties of adulthood. Limits on Legal Capacity Exceptions occur where a person has a diminished capacity to understand as in the case of a young child or a mentally disabled person. As an example, Queensland's Criminal Code 1899 provides at s.29(1-2): (1) A person under the age of 10 years is not criminally responsible for any act or omission. (2) A person under the age of 14 years is not criminally responsible for an act or omission, unless it is
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