The final report of a major government-commissioned review of deprivation of liberty legislation has been postponed until next year, it has been announced.
The Law Commission was due to hand ministers their final recommendations, including draft legislation, on a proposed replacement for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) by the end of this year. However, the project has been pushed back to March 2017.
In a statement issued today, the commission said: “The reason for the delay is the complexity of the task of drafting legislation on such an important issue. It is vitally important to get the law right here. Badly drafted, over-complicated law is a big part of the problem with the current DoLS, and we do not want to fall into the same trap again.”
The news will come as a blow to local authorities, with councils having struggled to meet their legal requirements under the current DoLS framework since the Supreme Court’s landmark ‘Cheshire West’ ruling in March 2014 triggered a surge in DoLs applications. A national case backlog hit more than 100,000 in April.
High hopes have been pinned on the Law Commission review delivering a system that can better handle current case numbers, while still protecting people’s human rights. The proposed replacement scheme is expected to cover both residential and community settings.
The commission said: “We are very aware that the project deadline was brought forward at the request of the Department of Health and for a good reason: there is an urgent need for the system to be improved. We know too that many stakeholders are waiting for our report and draft Bill and will be disappointed with any delay. For this we apologise.
“But we are convinced that it is far more important to deliver a fully completed draft Bill that can deliver effective safeguards to those being deprived of liberty. We are also confident that our new publication date will not delay the introduction of legislation into Parliament, should the government wish to do so. It will be for government to decide how to take forward the recommendations and draft Bill.”