The Mental Capacity Act (2005) Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) apply to anyone aged 18 and over:

  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind – such as dementia or a profound learning disability and,
  • lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and/or treatment and
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the European Commission for Human Rights) is considered, after an independent assessment, to be in their best interests to protect them from harm.

The safeguards cover patients in hospitals, and people in care homes registered under the Care Standards Act 2000, whether placed under public or private arrangements.

The safeguards are designed to protect the interests of an extremely vulnerable group of people and to:

  • ensure people can be given the care they need in the least restrictive regimes
  • prevent arbitrary decisions that deprive vulnerable people of their liberty
  • provide safeguards for vulnerable people
  • provide people with rights of challenge against unlawful detention
  • avoid unnecessary bureaucracy

Mental Capacity Amendment Bill 2017 to 2019

In March 2017 the Law Commission published its draft Bill for the replacement of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The government subsequently acknowledged that replacement legislation is urgently required.

The Bill is currently before parliament and it will pass through the House of Lords, then the House of Commons and gain Royal Assent in late 2019.

You can find the Bill and it's progress before parliament on the UK Parliament website.

A useful summary of the Bill (in its current form as of 15 July 2018) is available online.

Request for authorisation

Surrey County Council is the supervisory body for hospitals and residential and nursing homes in Surrey.

This means that all requests for standard authorisations for people ordinarily resident in Surrey must be sent to Surrey County Council's Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) Team for assessment.

People not living in care homes or hospitals

It may be that an accommodation or support provider considers that a mentally incapacitated person they are supporting may be deprived of their liberty in an environment other than a care home or hospital.

Whilst Mental Capacity Act compliant decisions must be made regarding that person, the DoLS provisions do not apply and the deprivation can only be authorised by a court.

Under these circumstances advice should be sought from the commissioner of the care / support they are being provided with (such as local authority or NHS). If the person is 'self-funding' or being supported by an attorney or court appointed deputy, either the commissioner or provider should seek independent legal advice.

General advice is also available from the council's DoLS team

DoLS code of practice

The Code of Practice provides guidance for professionals involved in administering and delivering the safeguards, who are under a duty to have regard to the code.

The code is also intended to provide information for people who are, or could become, subject to the deprivation of liberty safeguards, and for their families, friends and carers, as well as for anyone who believes that someone is being deprived of their liberty unlawfully.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The CQC report on the use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in their annual State of Care publication.

Law Society Guidance - Deprivation of liberty: a practical guide

The Law Society has issued comprehensive guidance on the law relating to the deprivation of liberty safeguards. The guidance was commissioned by the Department of Health and aims to help solicitors and frontline health and social care professionals identify when a deprivation of liberty may be occurring in a number of health and care settings.

It uses case scenarios to explain the law following the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court.

The complete guidance on deprivation of liberty is available online. You can also download individual chapters relating to specific care settings. Quick reference sheets also highlight relevant liberty restricting factors and key questions for practitioners relating to each individual setting.

Particular attention should be paid to Chapter 3 and Annex 2 of this guidance.

Contact details for DoLS team for advice or further information

  • Address: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, Surrey County Council, Quadrant Court, Third Floor, 35 Guildford Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 7QQ
  • Telephone: 01483 517644
  • Fax: 01483 517830
  • Email address:

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.