Protecting rights in mental health law
The relationship between the courts and mental health tribunals
in Ethical and legal debates in Irish healthcare
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Ireland’s Mental Health Act 2001 requires that all involuntary admissions for mental disorder be reviewed within twenty-one days by a three-person Mental Health Tribunal. This chapter focuses on key written judgments of the High Court and Supreme Court reviewing decisions of Mental Health Tribunal. Despite some statements to the contrary, the general picture which emerges is that the courts have not engaged in robust supervision of mental health tribunals. Instead, the general tenor of the case-law has been to endorse decisions of tribunals to affirm detentions, and to limit access to the courts to the most extreme violations of procedural rights. The chapter argues that this is a disappointing outcome, in light of the supposed rights-based focus of the Mental Health Act 2001.

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