Sophie Smith-Holland was instructed by Sophie Webb of RWK Goodman to represent the mother in an application by a Local Authority for a Deprivation of Liberty Order (“DoLs order”) in respect of a child, J, heard in the High Court before Mrs Justice Lieven.

J was a 14 year old with a complex set of diagnoses, including autism and ADHD, impacting on his communication skills and cognition, and an eating disorder. J’s conditions were lifelong and unlikely to change for the rest of his life. J was living in a specialist children’s home and because of his needs, J was subject to a high level of care and supervision.

The question for the court was whether the Local Authority, who had parental responsibility for J under a care order, also needed a DoLs order given that the high level of care and supervision may be described as restrictions, such as: windows that only open one inch, being subject to total supervision in the community, having to wear a harness in the car and having small objects placed away from him (due to his eating disorder). Alternatively, could the Local Authority, in respect of a child under the age of 16, consent to a deprivation of liberty?

Lieven J held that the Local Authority had the power to consent to the restrictions and therefore to the Deprivation of Liberty, and no DoLs order was needed.

Lieven J accepted that limbs 1 and 3 in Storck were met i.e. the objective component of confinement in a particular restricted place for a not negligible length of time; and the attribution of responsibility to the state. However, in respect of limb 2, regarding consent, she held that the decision to “deprive him of his liberty” was not a decision of such magnitude as to fall outside the Local Authority’s powers, but rather an exercise of their statutory duties to J.

Download judgment: J: Local Authority consent to Deprivation of Liberty, Re [2024] EWHC 1690 (Fam)

Sophie is also regularly instructed in Deprivation of Liberty cases in the High Court. Read more here.