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Law Centre NI: “no further delays to deprivation of liberty provisions to the Mental Capacity Act (NI)”

A delay to the introduction of important safeguards has been announced by the Department of Health. The Department of Health and the Department of Justice had agreed to commence provisions of the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 to provide a statutory framework of safeguards in relation to the deprivation of liberty of people in residential care and nursing homes. The date of commencement was set for Tuesday 1st October but has now been delayed until Monday 2 December 2019.

Law Centre NI’s Community Care Legal Officer, Catherine Harper, highlighted the need to avoid any further delays, saying: “The Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 is an important piece of legislation that safeguards adults in care and brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK. This legislation will plug a significant gap in the law when it comes to adults under constant supervision and the control of adults who are not free to leave their accommodation. This was highlighted in the Supreme Court case P v Cheshire West and Chester Council and Another and P and Q v Surrey County Council.

“The new provisions will provide safeguards for those people without capacity by ensuring that all actions by the Trust are carried out in the service user’s best interests. They set out the steps that must be taken to authorise a deprivation of liberty, with oversight by the Review Tribunal. It is critical that the public and health and social care staff understand these important new safeguards. It is also vital that these provisions, which create important protections in people’s lives, are not further delayed.

For advice and assistance on the new deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, contact the Community Care Legal Team on (028) 90 244401.

Law Centre NI can also help you get ready in advance of the changes by offering awareness sessions and training. For more information contact our training team on