After 5 months of anxious anticipation the Supreme Court has handed down judgment in the cases of P v Cheshire West and P & Q v Surrey County Council. This judgment is a key moment in defining the rights of those who lack capacity. A House of Lords Select Committee recently suggested that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has suffered from a lack of awareness and understanding amongst those working with mentally incapacitated adults and possibly tens of thousands of individuals are being deprived of their liberty without the protection of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS).
On the face of it the Supreme Court judgment has simplified the question of whether someone is deprived of their liberty. Time will tell what the impact will be on practice on the ground but one thing that seems certain is that local authorities will see an increase in the number of DOLS cases.