A “National DoLS Court” – what it is (and isn’t)

Judging by my inbox (which I know I shouldn’t be checking on sabbatical), a considerable amount of confusion has been caused by the announcement that the President of the Family Division has decided to introduce a pilot “National DoLS Court” (for those under 18) to launch on 4 July 2022.   It is, perhaps, unfortunate, that it uses the term “DoLS,” when this is already a term in wide use for administrative authorisation of deprivation of liberty for those over 18 (for more on this form of ‘DoLS’, see here).   Linguistic confusion aside, it is perhaps important to make clear that, as I understand it, this is an initiative which arises from the increasing (and in many ways alarming) numbers of cases involving the High Court being asked to authorise the deprivation of liberty of those under 18 under its inherent jurisdiction.  In other words, and as Joanne Clement QC put it (in response to an earlier version of this post), is intended to be an administrative device to work out (1) which cases are dealt with by Family Division judges in the Royal Courts of Justice; and (2) which cases are connected to care cases and can be dealt with by s9 judges (i.e. judges authorised to sit as judges of the High Court) at the same time as they decide those care cases.

It is not, for instance, anything to do with the Court of Protection exercising its powers to authorise deprivation of liberty, or children/young people subject to detention under the Mental Health Act 1983.

For more on deprivation of liberty in relation to those under 18, see our guidance note here.

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