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'deaths under DoLS' – inquests no longer mandatory from 3 April 2017

22 March 2017

From 3 April 2017, the Policing and Crime Act 2017 comes into effect to amend the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and relieve coroners of the current duty to hold an inquest into every death where the deceased was subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation or was deprived of their liberty through provisions in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The old law will continue to apply to deaths occurring before 3 April 2017, even if the death is reported to the coroner after this date. 

However, any death must still be reported to the coroner where the cause of death is unknown or there are concerns that the cause of death was unnatural or violent (including where there is any concern about the care given having contributed to the person’s death), regardless of whether the person was under DoLS or not.

The Chief Coroner will be issuing new guidance on the impact of DoLS and other deprivations of liberty shortly, as the guidance from December 2014 is now out of date in this respect (and was recently criticised by the Court of Appeal in Ferreira v Coroner of Inner South London).

Should you wish to discuss these changes, or any other aspects of the coroner’s service, please do get in touch.

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