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If an adult who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about their care is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave their placement, this is known as a ‘deprivation of liberty’. In certain circumstances this may be justified but a recent landmark case that we were involved in (the ‘Cheshire West’ case) has established that proper authorisation is needed.

In some situations, authorisation can be obtained through the ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (also known as DoLS), which allows local councils to authorise deprivation of liberty. However, in many circumstances this authorisation can only come from the Court of Protection, including where there is a dispute about the placement.

If you’re involved in a dispute over deprivation of liberty, it’s important to get specialist legal advice as this is a complex, evolving area of law. We are the national leaders in this field, having been involved in a number of high-profile cases, including the recent ‘community DoLS’ cases of Re X and NRA.

Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

Our lawyers are recognised as experts in public and human rights law. With offices around the country, we can help anyone who finds themselves involved in a dispute over deprivation of liberty.

We’re regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor, Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) and care organisations, who come to us because they trust our expertise in this field. Our lawyers are members of the Court of Protection Practitioners Association (CoPPA), so you know you’re dealing with genuine specialists.

We have previously been instructed by:

  • Individuals who are, or may be, deprived of their liberty
  • The families of such individuals
  • IMCAs who are involved in deprivation of liberty court cases or who wish to make a s21A appeal to the Court of Protection in relation to a deprivation of liberty”
  • Organisations providing care

We’re experienced in mediation and have helped many clients to negotiate solutions in hotly disputed cases.

"With you and your team, leading the way, I felt in safe hands, with excellent and timely guidance. The outcome was brilliant, and I can only thank everyone for their support and excellent advice."

"Had it not been for the representation afforded my client by Irwin Mitchell, it is not clear that the local authority would have addressed their obligations under the Mental Capacity Act 2005."

Our Expertise In Human Rights Law

Our national team is ranked number 1 in the leading independent guides to the legal profession, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. A number of individual lawyers are also ranked highly, including:

Yogi Amin: “a really talented solicitor. He has a real knack for of being able to see a good point and run with it." “He is brilliant. He is good at pushing the boundaries of the law ….” (Chambers & Partners)

Alex Rook: "tenacious, intelligent, very likeable." (Chambers & Partners)

Anne-Marie Irwin: “has a growing reputation for challenging local authorities and health organisations" (Legal 500)

Polly Sweeney: "combines being an excellent lawyer with fantastic people skills." (Legal 500)

Mathieu Culverhouse: "He is a safe pair of hands. He goes the extra mile for the client." (Chambers & Partners)

Legal Aid For Deprivation Of Liberty Cases

Legal Aid is still available in this area of law. In many cases it is not means tested, so is available to anyone who is subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards authorisation, regardless of their financial position.

In other cases, you may be able to fund a case privately.

Template Letters

We have prepared template letters to be used by people who are concerned that a friend or family member is being deprived of their liberty in a hospital or care home without authorisation.

The first letter is to be sent to the manager of the hospital or care home requesting that a DoLS authorisation be put in place.

The second letter is to be sent to the local authority in the event that no satisfactory response is received to the above letter.

The third letter is to be sent to the relevant social worker where an individual is deprived of his or her liberty in a placement that is not a registered care home or hospital (for example a 'supported living' placement).

Contact Us For Expert Advice

If you need help in relation to deprivation of liberty, contact us as soon as possible. The Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty safeguards allow for urgent determination of cases, so a resolution could be found quickly, reducing stress for you and the other people involved.

To speak to an expert, call us now on 0800 028 1943, or contact us and we will get back to you.


Legal 500

”The professionalism shown by the entire team is admirable.”

Legal 500 2015

Chambers 2016 

"It's a very approachable department. They have knowledge of all aspects of anything you could need help on.

Chambers & Partners 2016

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0800 028 1943