Deprivation of liberty court cases triple but fall short of Cheshire West predictions
Ministry of Justice figures reveal 1,499 deprivation of liberty cases reached Court of Protection last year, up from 525 in 2014
The number of deprivation of liberty cases handled by the Court of Protection rose from 525 in 2014 to 1,499 in 2015 figures published by the Ministry of Justice show. The figures included applications to the court from Local Authorities to authorise deprivation of liberty in community settings, such as supported living or shared lives schemes as well as appeals against Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards orders. These commonly concern care placements in care homes or hospitals.
68% were to authorise deprivation of liberty in the community, and mainly through a streamlined process (Re X) introduced in November 2014 to allow uncontentious applications to processed without an oral hearing.
Impact of Cheshire West ruling on Deprivation of Liberty Court Cases.
The streamlined process was introduced to help the court handle an anticipated tsunami of deprivation of liberty court cases in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Cheshire West ruling. The ruling, in March 2014, effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care and requires authorisation.
Following the ruling, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service (ADASS) predicted around 30,000 court applications a year would be needed to comply with the Cheshire West ruling. In many cases, this meant that what had been normal practice was now illegal with Court of Protection authority. Such applications have increased, but to well short of expected levels, which may mean that many situations are still not regularised. One wonders whether under pressure Local Authorities actually have the time and staff to sort out these issues. Time will tell! As ever the situation is not as straightforward as it might be as the Court of Appeal has raised further issues in cases in particular about looking after the interest of the person who may have been deprived of liberty to a greater or lesser extent.