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T (A Child: Care Order: Beyond Parental Control: Deprivation of Liberty: Authority to Administer Medication) [2017] EWFC B1

Relevant Topics

  • Children
  • Young People
  • Deprivation of Liberty
  • Administration of Medication
  • Scope of Beyond Parental Control - Section 31(2) Children Act 1989
  • Parental Responsibility

Practical Impact

A "looked after" child or young person subject to a care order, receiving care in circumstances amounting to a "confinement" for the purpose of the Objective Element of a deprivation of liberty must have the Article 5 interference authorised by the Court; - this is necessary and a failure to obtain this would be a breach of Article 5 because it would not meet the need for an independent check as set out in Cheshire West and Chester council v P and another [2014] UKSC 19.

Where there is a significant dispute between professionals and parents regarding the administration of certain medications, the authorisation of the Court may be required under the inherent jurisdiction and a Local Authority could not rely on its parental responsibility provided by the care order for consent.

For the purposes of meeting the threshold under Section 31(2) Children Act 1989 there was no need for a Local Authority to establish parental culpability for the child being beyond parental control.



  • Inherent Jurisdiction should be used to authorise a DoL for a child under 16 where a Care Order is granted
  • The Local Authority as an "organ of the state" could not consent to the DoL
  • To administer significant medication where there is a dispute between parents and professionals may require an application for permission to administer the medication under the Court's inherent jurisdiction.
T was aged 13 years and resided under an interim care order in a specialist unit providing accommodation, care and education (but was not secure accommodation). T was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder [ASD] and severe learning disability.

The Judge was asked to consider whether the criteria under Section 31(2) of the Children Act 1989 were met and found that on the facts they were; T was beyond the scope of parental control and was likely to suffer significant harm as a result. Therefore a care order was made.

One of the questions raised was whether if a care order was made, do the arrangements for T's care within the residential unit amount to a deprivation of his liberty and, if so, is a declaration authorising the local authority to deprive him of his liberty required.

An in-house psychiatrist at the Unit had prescribed resperidone (an anti-psychotic drug) and other medication. There was a dispute with T's mother about the administration of this medication. The Local Authority had not sought declarations regarding the administration of the medication on the basis that it could consent to it by virtue of its parental responsibility under Children Act 1989, s 33(3).

Key Findings

Mr Darren Howe QC

It was agreed that P's care at the residential unit, objectively, amounted to a deprivation of his liberty. It was necessary to confine T to locked areas within X unit, to prevent him for leaving the buildings and to prevent him from leaving the grounds and to restrain T to prevent him causing harm to himself or to others.

No party argued that the local authority could give consent to T's deprivation of liberty at the Unit and there was no dispute between the parties that, in the event that the care plan was approved and the care order was made, a declaration authorising the deprivation of T's liberty would be required.

In the absence of such a declaration, T's continued placement at X unit would be unlawful and in breach of article 5 ECHR and due to the need for the restrictions and those being in T's best interests, the deprivation of liberty was authorised under the inherent jurisdiction.

With regard to the administration of medication, especially anti-psychotic medication to T, the authorisation of the Court was required given T's mother's Article 8 rights.


This case summary was written by Julia Jones, Senior Associate.

Please contact Julia Jones if you wish to discuss this case or any related topics further. 

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