gavelThe publication date of final report into the review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and draft bill for its replacement has been put back to 2017.

The Law Commission was commissioned by the government to review the DoLS and propose draft legislation for a replacement for them by the end of 2016, but this deadline has now been extended to March next year.

In a statement, the Law Commission said the reason for the delay was down to the complex nature of drafting legislation on such an important issue. “It is vitally important to get the law right here. Badly drafted, over-complicated law is a big part of the problem with the current DoLS, and we do not want to fall into the same trap again,” the statement said.

The review was commissioned in the wake of the ‘Cheshire West’ decision by the Supreme Court in March 2014, which changed the definition of what constituted a deprivation of liberty and led to a significant increase in DoLS applications, which local authorities have since struggled to cope with. In April, the national backlog of applications stood at more than 100,000.

“We are very aware that the project deadline was brought forward at the request of the Department of Health and for a good reason: there is an urgent need for the system to be improved,” the Law Commission’s statement added. “We know too that many stakeholders are waiting for our report and draft Bill and will be disappointed with any delay. For this we apologise.

“But we are convinced that it is far more important to deliver a fully completed draft Bill that can deliver effective safeguards to those being deprived of liberty. We are also confident that our new publication date will not delay the introduction of legislation into Parliament, should the Government wish to do so. It will be for Government to decide how to take forward the recommendations and draft Bill.”