Legal & Ethical Policy Unit

The Legal & Ethical Policy Unit (LEPU) was founded in 2015 as a sub-committee of the Professional Affairs & Safety Committee.


  • Acting upon legal decisions that require ethical and clinical guidance for the specialty.
  • Responding to Section 28 coroner requests.
  • Producing publications for journals / newlsetters and policy documents on relevant issues.
  • Holding fact-finding colloquia in order to inform the above.
  • Ensuring the FICM and, where appropriate, its partners are kept abreast of all relevant developments.
  • It does not provide expert witnesses for the Court, nor can it comment on individual legal cases of our members or their Trusts.


Available here: Committees, Advisory Groups and Sub-Committee membership.

Midnight Laws

The Faculty is pleased to announce the release of a new series produced by our Legal & Ethical Policy Unit (LEPU) called Midnight Law.  Midnight Law aims to cover thorny legal issues in a one-page summary that you can access whenever and wherever an issue may arrive.  Please click on the links below to access the Midnight Laws:

Deprivation of Liberty in Intensive Care

Approaching Plans for the Person with a Disability (England & Wales) 

Approaching Plans for the Person with a Disability (Scotland) 

Disclosure of Genetic Information to a Relative without a Patient’s Consent 

Child Protection and Safeguarding

Relatives Recording Conversations

Disagreement on Best Interests (England and NI)

Disagreement regarding the treatment of patients who lack capacity (Scotland)

Police Access to Critical Care Patients

We would like to continue expanding and developing the Midnight Law series. We already have some we are working on in draft but would welcome submissions from members, either as ideas or as drafts in Word for review by LEPU.

Supreme Court Verdict On The Case Of Y

The Supreme Court has handed down its verdict on the case of Y which considers when it is necessary to seek the approval of the court before Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration is withdrawn from a person with a proloned disorder of consciousness. The Supreme Court verdict was there is no requirement to seek court approval. The verdict also broadened to consider the wider question of the withdrawal or withholding of any form of life-sustaining treatment from a person lacking the capacity to consent to or refuse such treatment.

The Legal & Ethical Policy Unit undertook a written legal intervention into the cas which was welcomed by the court for setting the case in the contect of its impact on wider clinical care. the unit has provided a summary of the verdict  here for members

Guidance on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Following the judgement from the Court of Appeal in the Ferreira v Coroner of Inner South London case regarding Deprivation of Liberty (DoLS) in the ICU, a summary statement has been prepared on behalf of the Faculty and Intensive Care Society. In May 2017, the Supreme Court refused permission to the appellant to appeal in this case. 

FICM & ICS Guidance on MCA and DoLS   

The judgement pronounced that DoLS does not apply in the administration of life saving treatment, with the exception of very special circumstances. The FICM Legal and Ethical Policy Unit submitted a written intervention as part of the case and consider this a positive development for the management of DoLS within the critical care environment. A brief summary of the judgement can be found here:

Update May 2019

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 will come into force in the course of 2020, replacing DoLS with the Liberty Protection Safeguards (‘LPS’). Statutory guidance will be produced in a new Code of Practice as to the circumstances that amount to a deprivation of liberty, including in the intensive care setting. The FICM understands that the statutory guidance will draw upon the case-law covered in the Ferreira case and will provide further guidance as to the application of the LPS in the intensive care setting in due course

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) Guidance for Healthcare Professionals: Acting as an expert or professional witness

The guidance was published by the AoMRC following a reccommendation in Sir norman Williams' Review of Gross Negligence Manslaughter in Healthcare. The guidance is aimed specifically at clinical professionals who provide an expert opinion or act as a professional or expert witness in courts or tribunals.The Faculty also participated on the writing group for the guidance and supports the publication of 

'Acting as an expert or professional witness: Guidance for healthcare professional'