Confounding the expectations of those who had thought that the stalemate in Stormont meant there was no possibility that MCA (NI) 2016 would ever be brought into force, the Departments of Health there has announced that those parts of the Bill providing for the authorisation of deprivation of liberty will come into force on 1 October 2019. These provisions, placed in their context in this very useful article here, allow for authorisation by a panel of the detention of those aged 16 and above with impaired capacity in circumstances amounting to a deprivation of liberty in a particular place in which appropriate care or treatment is available for them. The Northern Ireland legislation takes the same approach to the definition of liberty as is contained in the MCA 2005, i.e. tying it directly to Article 5 ECHR, so Northern Ireland will be on the same journey (including in relation to those aged 16/17) as England & Wales regarding the scope of the concept. Unlike in England & Wales, but as with the Jersey system described here, the right of review is to a Tribunal (a reconstituted Mental Health Review Tribunal).
At one level, it is rather depressing that a bold legislative scheme designed to fuse mental capacity and mental health legislation is only being brought into force, so far, to address the Cheshire West gap. At another, the fact that any part of the Act is coming into force at all is of real significance, not least, parochially, for purposes of starting to assess whether the confidence tests set out for the future of mental health law in England & Wales in the independent MHA review are met (see here at 224ff).