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Communtity Law Manual | Mental health | “Judicial inquiry”: Going to the High Court

Reviews and appeals

“Judicial inquiry”: Going to the High Court

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 84

If you are in hospital under an inpatient compulsory treatment order (see “Compulsory treatment orders” in this chapter), anybody can apply to the High Court for a judicial inquiry. This is an inquiry into the legality of a patient’s detention or whether the patient is fit to be discharged.

If somebody applies for an inquiry, a judge can arrange for a district inspector to investigate your case. If the judge decides that you:

  • are being held illegally, or
  • are fit to be discharged from hospital,

they can order that you be discharged.

Habeas Corpus Act 2001, s 6; Case: [2010] NZCA 632

You also have a separate right to apply to a High Court judge for what’s called a “writ of habeas corpus”. This is a long-established type of legal action you can use if you believe the police or other officials are holding you illegally.

However, if your main argument in applying for a habeas corpus writ is that you don’t believe you have a mental disorder, the judge will be very unlikely to grant you the writ and order your release. The courts see it as more appropriate to use the special processes set up under the Mental Health Act for challenging mental health assessments under the Act, including reviews by Family Court judges and the special Review Tribunal.

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