Legal update: deprivation of liberty in intensive care

R (on the application of Ferreira) v HM Senior Coroner for Inner London South UKSC 2017/0036 – Supreme Court refuses permission to appeal.

Following our legal update posted on 27/1/17 reporting on the judgment of the Court of Appeal in this case,  the Supreme Court has refused the Ferreira family permission to appeal. This means that the Court of Appeal judgment in Ferreira is binding authority.

Consequently, in the vast majority of cases, a deprivation of liberty (DoL) will not arise as a consequence of treatment in an Intensive Care setting or indeed any hospital setting where urgent life-saving medical treatment is being administered. This will come as welcome news to ICU staff who will now, save in exceptional cases, be spared the administrative burden of making DoLS referrals for patient’s in ICU whose life-saving treatment is the sole reason why there are, technically speaking, ‘not free to leave’ the unit.

If you have any questions about this guidance or require any advice on the issues discussed in this update please contact Kathryn Riddell on: (0191) 2267829 or

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