Deprivation of liberty: current approach leaves vulnerable clients with limited protection

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By Laura Davidson

In P and Q v Surrey County Council & Others [2011] EWCA Civ 190, the Court of Appeal approved Parker J’s suggested new ‘relative normality’ test for assessing whether or not someone was being deprived of their liberty.

If someone’s disabilities and difficulties necessitate assistance that is a significant interference in their life regardless of where they reside, then they are living a relatively normal life ‘for them’. Thus the circumstances are unlikely to amount to a deprivation.

This concept purports to emanate from Engel v Netherlands (1976) 1 EHRR 647, despite its focus on the limitations of the army regime upon a soldier’s lifestyle, rather than a person’s individual characteristics…

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