Mental health-related legislation

Legislative Acts relating to mental health and addictions are summarised below. Each Act can be viewed in full on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966

The aim of this Act is to consolidate and amend the Reformatory Institutions Act 1909 and to make better provision for the care and treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts.

Crimes Act 1961

Section 23 of this Act sets out the conditions that apply to a defence of insanity.

Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003

The purpose of this Act is to 'restate the law formerly set out in Part 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 relating to mentally disordered persons who are involved in criminal proceedings, and to make a number of changes to that law,' including changes to:

  • provide the courts with appropriate options for the detention, assessment, and care of defendants and offenders with an intellectual disability; and
  • provide that a defendant may not be found unfit to stand trial for an offence unless the evidence against the defendant is sufficient to establish that the defendant caused the act or omission that forms the basis of the offence.

Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care & Rehabilitation) Act 2003

The purposes of this Act are:

  • to provide courts with appropriate compulsory care and rehabilitation options for persons who have an intellectual disability and who are charged with, or convicted of, an offence; and
  • to recognise and safeguard the special rights of individuals subject to this Act; and
  • to provide for the appropriate use of different levels of care for individuals who, while no longer subject to the criminal justice system, remain subject to this Act

Land Transport Act 1998

The key areas of relevance from this Act are the provisions concerning drivers’ licences for patients under the MHCAT Act 1992. Director of Area Mental Health Services (DAHMS) are responsible for retaining the suspended driver licences of special patients and patients subject to compulsory inpatient orders, under section 19 of the Land Transport Act 1998. DAMHS are also responsible for returning licences to patients and for forwarding licences to the Director of Land Transport when a patient ceases to be a special patient or subject to a compulsory inpatient order. Licences are returned by DAMHS temporarily where patients are certified fit to drive on leave.

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment & Treatment) Act 1992

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Act) provides for the compulsory assessment and treatment of people who are considered to be 'mentally disordered' within the meaning of the Act. See also: Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992.

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment & Treatment) Amendment Act 1999

This Amendment Act came into force from 1 April 2000.

Misuse of Drugs 1975 - Section 24

Section 24 of this Act relates to the treatment of people dependent on controlled drugs.

Victims’ Rights Act 2002

Section 37 of this Act concerns notice to be given to registered victims of the discharge, leave or escape, or death of an accused or offender who is compulsorily detained in a hospital.

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