Key messages

  • The Mental Health Tribunal is an independent statutory tribunal established under the Mental Health Act 2014.
  • The Tribunal is an essential safeguard under the Act to protect the rights and dignity of people with mental illness.
  • The primary function of the Tribunal is to determine whether the criteria for compulsory mental health treatment as set out in the Mental Health Act 2014 apply to a person.
  • The Tribunal makes a Treatment Order for a person if all the criteria in the legislation apply to that person.

The Mental Health Tribunal is a key safeguard in the compulsory treatment of people with mental illness.

Mental Health Tribunal

The Mental Health Tribunal is an independent quasi-judicial body that:

  • makes Treatment Orders for compulsory patients
  • hears applications from compulsory patients for revocation of Temporary Treatment Orders or Treatment Orders
  • hears applications against the transfer of a compulsory or security patient to another mental health service
  • periodically reviews the orders of security patients, hears applications for revocation of such orders and applications by security patients relating to refusals of a leave of absence
  • hears and determines applications for orders authorising the use of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) in the treatment of adult patients who do not have capacity to give informed consent to ECT and any persons under 18 years of age
  • hears and determines applications for neurosurgery for mental illness.

Mental Health Tribunal members

A general division of the Tribunal consists of three members: a lawyer, a psychiatrist or registered medical practitioner, and a member of the community.

An application for ECT or neurosurgery for mental illness must be heard and determined by a special division of the Tribunal. A special division of the Tribunal comprises three members: a lawyer, a psychiatrist and a community member.

Tribunal hearings

The Mental Health Tribunal is bound by procedural fairness.

The Tribunal takes a holistic, solution-focused and recovery-oriented approach to hearings. It considers a range of factors including the person’s goals and preferences and the views of people who are significant in the life of the person, such as the nominated person, carers and parents. This approach places the person at the centre of the hearing as an active partner in the discussion and decision-making. The person will be supported to discuss their strengths, thoughts, feelings and goals to enable problem-solving and self-efficacy.

The person or young person who is the subject of a hearing has the right to appear and be represented by anyone of their choice, including a lawyer.

The Tribunal conducts hearings as promptly and with as little formality and technicality as possible.

At the end of the hearing, the Tribunal gives its decision and reasons for the decision.