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5.1.5 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Application (DoLs)


This chapter was updated in April 2017.


  1. Introduction
  2. Depriving Someone of Their Liberty
  3. The Acid Test
  4. Application Process
  5. Policy Information
  6. Flowcharts
  7. Other Documents

1. Introduction

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were introduced in April 2009. They provide legal protection where the living and care arrangements made for a person who does not have capacity to consent to them include restrictions and/or restraints which amount to a deprivation of Liberty If they do, then this must be authorised through either the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards process or through an application to the Court of Protection.

This procedure applies to all Service Users we support in both residential domestic and respite settings.

2. Depriving Someone of Their Liberty

When can someone be deprived of their liberty? This is the case when:

  • The person lacks the capacity to consent to the arrangements made for their care or treatment (consideration will need to be given to an assessment of capacity and a best interest meeting and who is best placed to undertake these);
  • The arrangements amounting to a Deprivation of Liberty are in the person’s best interest to protect them from harm;
  • The arrangements are proportionate response to the likelihood and seriousness of harm;
  • There is no less restrictive alternative;
  • An authorisation is recommended by the Best Interests Assessor following the Dols assessment process for Registered Care Homes;
  • For Domestic settings a Dols authorisation could be recommended by a social worker on behalf of the local authority if applying to court for a Domestic Dols authorisation.

3. The Acid Test

The Supreme Court Judgment in March 2014 clarified that there is a deprivation of liberty for the purposes of Article 5 of the European Court of Human Rights if the “Acid Test” is met. The acid test sets out questions that should be considered when determining whether an adult who has been assessed as lacking the capacity to consent to their care arrangements is being deprived of their liberty or not.

  • Is the person under continuous supervision and control (all 3 aspects); and
  • Is the person not free to leave;
  • Are the arrangements imputable to the state (i.e. the state is held responsible).

he court ruled that if these conditions are met then the person is deprived of their liberty and must be authorised through the correct administrative or legal process.

The Court held that factors which are not relevant to determining whether there is a Deprivation of Liberty include:

  • The persons compliance or lack of objection;
  • The reason or purpose behind a particular placement; and
  • The extent to which it enables them to live a relatively normal life for someone with their level of disability.

4. Application Process

There are different processes for seeking authorisation of a Deprivation of Liberty, depending on whether the person is living and supported in a registered care home, domestic setting or respite services.

Referrals for both urgent and standard authorisations for residential care homes and respite services should be sent to:

For supported living (domestic setting) referrals should be sent to the relevant Assessment Team.

These different processes are described in the three flowcharts below. When completing the applications please ensure you fully complete all sections/paragraphs.

5. Policy Information

More detailed policy documents under Mental Capacity Act and Advocacy.

This includes:

6. Flowcharts

Click here to view Residential Care Homes Flowchart

Click here to view Respite Services Flowchart

Click here to view Supported Living Flowchart

7. Other Documents

Click here to view Urgent Authorisation Form

Click here to view Urgent Extension Authorisation Form

Click here to view Standard Authorisation Form