‘Streamlined’ system for court authorisations of deprivation of liberty comes into force

New process will allow court to make initial decisions on cases on paper evidence alone without the need for an oral hearing

The Court of Protection’s ‘streamlined’ system for handling applications to authorise deprivations of liberty in care placements outside of care homes and hospitals comes into force today (November 17).

Updated practice directions outlining the steps local authorities, and other applicants, should follow under the new system have been issued by the court. The streamlined system, which allows for initial decisions on cases to be made on paper evidence alone without the need for an oral hearing, is designed to help the court cope with a “very significant increase” in cases triggered by a Supreme Court ruling in March.

The court ruling, in the cases of Cheshire West and P and Q, effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care. The ruling has triggered a surge in deprivation of liberty cases. Where a care placement is in a care home or hospital it is covered by the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) and handled outside of the court. But deprivations of liberty in other settings, notably supported living and Shared Lives schemes, require an application to the Court of Protection to authorise them.

Research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) showed councils estimate that in light of the court ruling, the number of applications they make to the Court of Protection will rise from 134 in 2013-14 to 18,633 this financial year.

Concerns have previously been raised that the streamlined system risks the court ‘rubber stamping’ local authority moves to deprive a person of their liberty.

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