The New Deprivation of Liberty Court
28th July, 2022
On 4th July 2022, the Government launched the new National Deprivation of Liberty Court ('NDOLC'), in an attempt to address the increasing number of applications in relation to authorisation of the deprivation of a child's liberty.
Recent statistics show that such applications have increased by as much as 462% since 2017/18* with no signs of a slow down.
The NDOLC is based at the Royal Courts of Justice (“RCJ”) and is under the leadership of Mr Justice Moor. The NDOLC will be supported by 2 Family High Court or Deputy High Court Judges each week, and will also possess its own administrative team.
It is currently not clear where the NDOLC sits in the court structure, and whether it forms part of the High Court (Family Division) or part of the Family Court.
The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has been tasked with collecting and publishing data on the operation of NDOLC.
NDOLC will act as gatekeeper for all DoL applications concerning children and any application for the deprivation of a child’s liberty must be issued here.
It is currently expected that all hearings in the NDOLC will be remote, subject to judicial direction. The NDOLC will determine whether to retain the hearing, or whether it should be reallocated to circuit judges in local courts, this is to be determined by agreed criteria, not yet published. All applications should address the issue of whether the case should be heard locally.
No Practice Direction or Guidance on applications to the court has been issued yet, the existing application procedure stands. This means the usual application via Forms C2 and C66, along with the supporting documents and statements, should be made.
It is currently unclear whether applications for both a Care Order and DoL, (on Form C110A), should be made to NDOLC but applications for a DoL of a child should be issued from the NDOLC irrespective of whether there are linked care proceedings.
These new arrangements replace the existing procedure when applying for authorisation for the deprivation of a child under the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction, but do not affect the role of the Court of Protection in other matters.
The official Government notice of the introduction of the NDOLC can be found here.
If you require further information or advice on applications for deprivation of liberty, please do not hesitate to contact our resident Consent and Capacity expert, Georgina Rowley, at Georgina.Rowley@wardhadaway.com, who will be more than happy to assist.
* Alice Roe, ‘What do we know about children and young people deprived of their liberty in England and Wales? An evidence review‘ (Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, 09 February 2022).
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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