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School of Law

Call for Papers - Special Issue on Rethinking the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards


The International Journal of Mental Health and Capacity Law invites papers for inclusion in a special edition on the topic of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to be published in 2016.   The special edition builds upon the 'Rethinking Deprivation of Liberty in a Health and Social Care Context’ conference' held in London on 30 September 2015.

Aim and Scope

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) were introduced in England and Wales in 2007 to bridge the so-called “Bournewood gap” identified by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of HL. The Court found that the lack of legal safeguards for incapacitated adults deprived of their liberty in hospitals and care homes was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.  

In March 2014 the Supreme Court in Cheshire West clarified the definition of deprivation of liberty in the context of health and social care placements. Amongst the direct consequences of this decision is the surge in demand for DoLS assessments that is stretching social and health care bodies and raising concerns regarding the extent to which the DoLS process militates against the delivery of safe and effective care and treatment.

Furthermore, a House of Lords Select Committee conducting post-legislative scrutiny of the Mental Capacity Act found in 2014 that the DoLS are not “fit for purpose” and called for them to be replaced. The Law Commission has been asked to review the law relating to deprivation of liberty and a consultation paper was published in July 2015.

In this context, there is a pressing need for a discussion about the problems that confront health and social care practitioners and service users as a result of the current legal framework and whether, and if so how, it should be reformed. This is also an important opportunity for analyses of the relationship between care, liberty and diversity in a health and social care context. The issues that arise in the context of deprivation of liberty are not limited solely to England and Wales; all of the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom are currently confronting these questions in the context of legislative reform, and they are rising up the agenda in other countries.   

The editors seek academic articles, practice points, case notes and reports of research that relate to experiences with the DoLS and/or assist the process of legislative reform in England and Wales and further afield. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are encouraged.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Empirical accounts of the challenges for health and social care users, practitioners and authorities in the application of the DoLS.
  • Critical analyses of the Law Commission’s DoLS consultation paper and the consultation process.
  • The compatibility of the current legal framework with the European Convention on Human Rights or the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Alternative legal frameworks for authorising deprivation of liberty based on the experience of other jurisdictions.
  • Doctrinal and philosophical reflections about the meaning and significance of ‘liberty’ in a health and social care context.

Call for Papers

Further information, including the timeline for submissions, can be found in the Call for Papers [PDF 92KB]. The Call for Papers closes 31 January 2016.



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