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Reviews and appeals

Applying to the Review Tribunal

What is the Review Tribunal?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 101–104

The Review Tribunal is a special court. It can:

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 89, 101

There are three people on the Review Tribunal – a lawyer, a psychiatrist and one other person. If the patient is under 17, where possible, the psychiatrist should be someone who specialises in working with children and young people.

How do I apply to the Review Tribunal?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 79

The responsible clinician must examine you three months after a compulsory treatment order begins (and then every six months) to see whether or not you need to stay under compulsory treatment. These examinations are called clinical reviews (see “What happens if a compulsory treatment order is extended?” in this chapter).

If, after a clinical review, the responsible clinician decides that you are not fit to be released from compulsory status, a district inspector will contact you and give you information about your right to apply for a review of this decision.

Any of the following people can make an application to the Review Tribunal:

  • you, the patient
  • the district inspector or official visitor
  • your principal caregiver (if you have one)
  • your usual GP or nurse
  • your welfare guardian (if you have one).

If the district inspector thinks there should be a review but no one wants to apply, the district inspector will report this to the Tribunal, and they can review your status anyway.

Note: The Tribunal can refuse to consider an application for review if it has reviewed your condition within the previous three months and there is no reason to believe there has been a change in your condition, or the application is made by a friend or relative and the Tribunal thinks it has not been made in your best interests.

What will happen at the Tribunal hearing?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 79, 82

As soon as possible, and not later than 21 days (or a further seven days) after an application is made, the Review Tribunal will consider the application. You, as the patient should attend the hearing (unless excused). You can take a lawyer and support person if you wish. If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer, you may be able to get Legal Aid (see the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help”).

The Review Tribunal will review all the information about your case. The Tribunal can ask for an independent report of your condition from a psychiatrist who has not been involved with your case so far.

The Review Tribunal’s responsibility is to decide whether you are fit to be released from compulsory status. This means the Tribunal must look at whether you meet the criteria for having a mental disorder (see “Definitions of key terms and descriptions of key people” in this chapter).

What happens after the Tribunal makes its decision?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 79

If the Tribunal decides that you are fit to be released from compulsory status, the compulsory treatment order ends immediately and you do not have to receive any more treatment.

If the Tribunal finds that you are not fit to be released, you will be sent a Certificate of Tribunal Review explaining the Tribunal’s decision and what your legal rights are. A copy of the certificate will also be sent to:

  • the Director of Mental Health
  • the Director of Area Mental Health Services
  • your principal caregiver (if you have one)
  • your usual GP or nurse
  • your welfare guardian (if you have one)
  • a district inspector (or official visitor).

Can I appeal against the Tribunal’s decision?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 79, 83

After you have been sent the Certificate of Tribunal Review, the district inspector will contact you about whether you wish to appeal against the decision to the District Court.

If the district inspector thinks the Tribunal’s decision should be appealed, they will help you or any of the others who received the certificate to make an appeal. However, you, as the patient, and other specified people have the right to appeal regardless of the views of the district inspector.

If no-one wants to appeal, the district inspector will decide whether to report the decision to the court. If the district inspector does this, the court can review your condition as if an appeal had been made. An appeal must be made within one month of the date of the Tribunal’s decision.

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Mental health

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Health and Disability Commissioner


This “Mental health and addictions” webpage has information and pamphlets about mental-health services, including information for families and whānau.

Since the Mental Health Commission ceased to exist in 2012, the functions of the Health and Disability Commissioner have included monitoring mental health and addiction services and promoting improvements to those services. A specialist Mental Health Commissioner position was established in 2012 as part of the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Ministry of Health Services and Support


List of publicly funded health and disability services available in New Zealand.

Mental Health Foundation


The Mental Health Foundation has useful links and resources for people dealing with mental health issues. Helplines:


1737 call or text to talk


1737 is a completely free service to call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day. You’ll get to talk to (or text with) a trained counsellor.

Mental health district inspectors


You can find a list of district inspectors on www.health.govt.nz if you search for “mental health district inspectors”

District Inspectors are lawyers appointed by the Minister of Health to protect the rights of people receiving treatment under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, or the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003.

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