Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) – Interim Guidance

Date published: 14 October 2010

The purpose of this circular is to provide interim guidance on the principles to be applied by those involved in taking decisions about an individual’s care or treatment that may result in the deprivation of that individual’s liberty. 


The guidance is issued pursuant to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgement in 2004 in the “Bournewood” case (see Annexe 1) and is therefore an important element in the protection of Human Rights of patients as required under the European Convention of Human Rights. The guidance is intended as an interim solution based on the current legislative framework, the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 (the Order) and best practice, pending the introduction of new mental capacity legislation in Northern Ireland.

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