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What is a deprivation of liberty and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

Sometimes there are circumstances where a person lacking capacity requires care and/or treatment in a care home, hospital or in their own home and the only way to ensure they receive that care and/or treatment is for them to be subject to restrictions and on occasion, restraint. This is sometimes known as a deprivation of liberty.

The Human Rights Act 1998 states that no one should be deprived of their liberty, unless its in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (“DoLS”) is a procedure prescribed by law and is used if its necessary and in the person’s best interests to be deprived of their liberty in order to provide them care and treatment and prevent themselves harming themselves. The DoLS procedure can only be used if the person deprived of their liberty lacks capacity to consent to the care arrangements that amount to a deprivation of liberty.

The DoLS procedure only applies to those living in a care home or hospital. If someone is deprived of their liberty in accommodation other than a care home or hospital, an application to the Court of Protection may be necessary for the Court to authorise the deprivation of liberty.

In the event that a person lacking capacity is deprived of their liberty, the care home or the hospital in which they are residing will ask for their deprivation of liberty to be authorised by making a request for a standard authorisation. This request is made to the local authority where the person normally lives. 

Once the local authority receives the request, they will appoint two assessors to complete an assessment of the person said to be deprived of their liberty. As part of this assessment, consideration will be given to whether the person deprived of their liberty lacks capacity to make decisions regarding their care and treatment and also to check whether the deprivation is in the person’s best interests. Once the assessments are completed, an authorisation of the deprivation of liberty will be made by the local authority as long as certain criteria have been met.

How can we help?

Our specialist Solicitors work with you and your family to assist and support you understanding every steps of the DoLS process. We can provide advice in respect of challenging a deprivation of liberty when its felt not to be in the person’s best interests or when less restrictive measures could be considered.

We will liaise with the local authority and health professionals and attend best interests meetings with you. We provide visits at your home, in a care home and hospital setting anywhere in the country.

The DoLS process is complex and a difficult system to navigate through. Our specialist Solicitors can provide you with expert advice in this area, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

We can also provide you advice and support should there be any safeguarding concerns regarding you or a loved one. This includes attending safeguarding meetings and liaising with the local authority regarding their safeguarding enquiry. Call us on 01926 491 181 to find out more.

Team members

Debbie Anderson
Solicitor - Director - Head of The Health and Community Care Team
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Sonal Lala
Solicitor
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