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Running a Case Under the Mental Health Act 1992 and related legislation

NZ $25.00
Author(s): Stephen McCarthy, Dr Sandy Simpson
Published: 28 May, 1996
Pages: 58



The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 is now into its fourth year. We thought it was timely to look at how well lawyers and clinicians are performing in relation to the procedures under the Act (notwithstanding the present ministerial inquiry).

We think the focus for lawyers and clinicians should be on achieving positive outcomes from the patients’ perspective. We consider that this can be achieved by improving the quality of information upon which decisions are made and the clarity of communication between patient, clinician and counsel. This may lead to improved hearings, where the issues are identified and the evidence is related to the issues. There have been a number of articles in Mental Health and the Law (a journal published by Butterworths) over the last year or so, concerned with either the manner in which hearings under the Act are conducted or the potential damage hearings may cause to the therapeutic relationship between patient and clinician. We both recall what we have termed “damaging” hearings and our suggestions go some way towards avoiding these.

The Law Commission in its report Community Safety: Mental Health and Criminal Justice Issues, recommended dialogue on the interpretation of “mental disorder” as defined in the Act. We have had that in mind while writing this paper.

We have also looked at the interface between the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act and related legislation, for example, the Criminal Justice Act and the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act.

We have not attempted a comprehensive summary of the law. There are now two excellent texts on this subject, Trapski’s Family Law Volume III and Butterworths Family Law. There is also a journal for mental health practitioners, Mental Health and the Law, published by Butterworths. We have therefore assumed that readers will be conversant with the legislation and have some knowledge of the caselaw in this area.


Content outline

  • The statutory definition of mental disorder
  • Presentation of evidence
  • Legislation interface
  • Professional role
View contents page

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