Mental Health Law


This year for the first time, we have a one-day conference on mental health law, exploring some of the issues relating specifically to the treatment of patients with mental illness. We examine some of the issues around voluntary and involuntary treatment.

• Advance care directives
• Privacy and mental health information
• Assessing capacity for consent to treatment
• Mr H and the meaning of mental disorder

With a Keynote Address by Judge Tony FitzGerald, Auckland District Court Judge


Agenda: Day 1


Registration and Coffee


Opening remarks from the Chair


Mr H and the meaning of mental disorder

The case of Mr H has been one of the most difficult and controversial mental health cases of recent times, revealing how psychiatrists, lawyers and judges have grappled with the meaning of “mentally disordered” under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. This session will examine the leading case Waitemata Health v AG and a recent Review Tribunal decision about Mr H.

Nigel Dunlop, Barrister and Mediator, Convener of the Mental Health Review Tribunal


Advance directives for mental health patients

We look at how those receiving mental health care are able to plan for their future care when they are well.
• Determining capacity at the time of decision making
• What can be included in advance directives?

Iris Reuvecamp, Senior Associate, Buddle Findlay


Morning tea


Assessing capacity for consent in mental health care

With a wide spectrum of disorders requiring treatment, we examine patient capacity to understand the treatment options available.
• Patient understanding of the repercussions of treatment under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992
• The patient’s understanding of the implications of other treatment
• What to do if there are concerns about understanding

Dr Greg Young, Consultant Psychiatrist Regional Forensic Mental Health Service, Capital and Coast DHB
Richard Stone, Barrister and Solicitor, Souness Stone Law, District Inspector of Mental Health


The limits of compulsion

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 sets out the circumstances when a compulsory assessment or treatment can be made. We examine the limits of compulsion under the Act.
• The assessments that can be made under the Act
• The Mental Health Act and its relationship with the Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act
• Is the Act being used too often for compliance?
• To what extent can healthcare providers coerce patients to take medication for their physical health problems?
• Having the order lifted after treatment

Kris Gledhill, Lecturer, University of Auckland




Privacy and mental health information

We look at the limits on the use and disclosure of health information about those patients receiving voluntary or involuntary care.
• Balancing the privacy needs of individuals with risks to themselves and others
• The application of informed consent to information about mental health
• When can confidential health information be released to family members?
• The disclosure of information to other agencies

Peter Le Cren, Legal Counsel (Medico-legal), Auckland District Health Board


Amending the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966

In this session we examine the reasons for the review of the now outdated Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966. Modelled on mental health legislation, it should provide more protection for those requiring treatment.
• The policy considerations behind the new Act
• Compulsory treatment for those with addictions
• What will happen in practice

Dr Jeremy McMinn, Consultant Psychiatrist Addiction Specialist, Capital & Coast District Health Board


Afternoon tea


Recent developments in the doctrine of unfitness to stand trial

This session will examine recent case law developments on unfitness to stand trial in New Zealand and Australia and how these address current practice concerns.
• How and when is the issue triggered?
• What is the role of the judge at a fitness hearing?
• What constitutes “mental impairment”
• When proceedings can be stayed?

Warren Brookbanks, Professor Faculty of Law, University of Auckland


Do the intellectually disabled get a fair trial?

The number of people with an intellectual disability is unknown but is likely to be significant. We look at the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2004, s 9 and its application to the intellectually disabled.
• The options for intellectually disabled offenders
• The difficulties of assessing fitness to stand trial

Tony Ellis, Barrister, Blackstone Chambers


Keynote: New Beginnings Court to improve outcomes

The New Beginnings Court, Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou, allows homeless and low-level offenders over the age of 17 with mental health concerns, intellectual disability or chronic addiction to enter a more informal court process.
• How is the Court providing a more therapeutic regime to aid rehabilitation?
• The results so far
• Expanding the scheme

Judge Tony FitzGerald, Auckland District Court Judge


End of conference & networking drinks


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