Man unlawfully deprived of liberty gets £355,000 council payout

Authority admits it "clearly didn't get everything right" and apologises to man, whose lawyers said he was unlawfully placed in a care home for seven years

Photo by: nito

A man who was unlawfully deprived of his liberty in a care home has won a £355,000 payout from the council that placed him there.

Lawyers for the man, who is autistic and has learning disabilities, said Lancashire council admitted breaching his human rights and had agreed a £200,000 settlement and a payment of £155,000 for a deputy to manage his property and affairs on his behalf. This has been approved by the High Court.

Irwin Mitchell, which represented the man, said he was subject to highly restrictive arrangements in the home, where he lived from February 2010 to April 2017. This included a door locked with an alarm, one-to-one supervision for up to 14 hours a day and heavy restrictions on his use of the internet and social media.

However, despite the man, CHH, and his family repeatedly saying he was unhappy in the placement, the council did not refer the case to the Court of Protection to determine whether it was in his best interests.

CHH was subject to standard authorisations under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for some of the seven years but these did not cover all of his time in the care home, said Fiona McGhie, senior associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, who represented him.

She had argued, for CHH, that these DoLS authorisations were not lawful because they did not represent the least restrictive option for his care. Also, she said that at no point did the council, in its role as the supervisory body for DoLS, appoint him a paid relevant person’s representative (RPR), who would have likely referred the case to the Court of Protection.

Man ‘denied opportunity to challenge deprivation of liberty’

McGhie added: “Given his strong objections to his placement, the local authority should have referred his case to the Court of Protection to determine where it was in his best interests to live. It didn’t do that and so CHH was denied the opportunity of being able to challenge the deprivation of his liberty in a court.

“As a result he lived for many years in a placement where he was extremely unhappy, despite health professionals also raising concerns that he was inappropriately placed. While nothing can make up for the years CHH lost we’re pleased that we’ve at least been able to secure this settlement for CHH and hope he can now try and look to the future the best he can. For the moment, he is now living happily with his family at home.

“This case acts as a stark reminder to all local authorities of the need to ensure that the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are followed, and that those objecting to their placements are supported to challenge them in the Court of Protection.”

As well as the two payouts, the council has agreed to meet CHH’s costs, which, at the time of writing, were yet to be determined, said McGhie.

Louise Taylor, Lancashire’s executive director of adult services and health and wellbeing, said: “We never take the decision to deprive someone of their liberty lightly, and our sole focus is always the best interests of the individual concerned. In this case, we clearly didn’t get everything right and we have offered our sincere apologies. We continue to support this man and his family to help them live a good life.

“We have improved our procedures to help prevent situations like this happening in the future.”

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5 Responses to Man unlawfully deprived of liberty gets £355,000 council payout

  1. David Crisp April 8, 2022 at 10:05 am #

    Sadly, this man’s story is all too familiar. Autistic and learning disabled individuals are routinely being institutionalised for longer than necessary.

  2. Tahin April 8, 2022 at 11:07 am #

    I am sorry to say this is routine even if it’s not as horrible and blatant as this. Until social work bossess are personally financially liable for breaking the law they will continue to knowingly pressurise us to do this time and again. Makes a mockery of the rights based social work mantra doesnt it?

  3. Colin April 8, 2022 at 11:46 am #

    “We never take the decision to deprive someone of their liberty lightly, and our sole focus is always the best interests of the individual concerned. In this case, we clearly didn’t get everything right.” So even after this truly damning judgement there is still the conviction that they did get ‘something’ right. This is why social work leaders let us down and our service user suffer time and again. What did you get right?

  4. BIA April 8, 2022 at 1:47 pm #

    “We have improved our procedures to help prevent situations like this happening in the future”. Well ofcourse. How telling a response. So what needs when you are “assessing” somone is better procedures. Get the bureaucracy right and all is well and dandy apparently. Looking but choosing not to see an individual wanting to live a real life but choosing for them the existence services think is “good enough” for them instead is never improved by better procedures. Some in social work need to shift away from the arrogance of we know best because social workers don’t always. Very often the titles we like to brandish do not give us better ‘insight’ than family members or our health collagues. Those of you who are so convinced that by just having social workers brings human rights to the centre in health care need to read this judgement and show humility. Actually in my experience AMHP’s are ever so desperate to prove their medical expertise and impress doctors that they forget to do social work. I am sorry to say us BIA’s too suffer from this status anxiety. This judgement is in a long line so we have a lot of people we should be aplogising to. Where I work, today is always promoted as MCA Friday. What’s there to celebrate today?

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