The Tribunal may adjourn a mental health inquiry for a period no longer than 14 days, if not satisfied that:
- the subject person has been informed of the authorised medical officer’s duty in relation to the giving of notice; or
- notice has been given or that all reasonably practicable things have been done to give notice.
The decison to adjourn a mental health inquiry may occur if:
- the Tribunal believes it is in the best interests of the subject person; and
- the Tribunal has considered the certificates given under the Act.
If the Tribunal adjourns a mental health inquiry the subject person is to continue to be detained in the mental health facility unless discharged or allowed to be absent on leave.
The Tribunal may from time to time adjourn its other proceedings to such times, dates and places and for such reasons as it thinks fit. The purpose of adjourning proceedings is to ensure they are properly conducted. The Tribunal may adjourn proceedings if it is necessary to arrange for appropriate legal representation, or for an interpreter to assist the person or a primary carer or to allow for the production of important evidence.
Adjourning proceedings can have serious consequences. If the Tribunal adjourns proceedings in relation to a person who is detained in a mental health facility, that person is to continue to be detained in the facility unless discharged or allowed to be absent from the facility under another provision of the Act. As an adjournment may have significant consequences for an involuntary patient’s liberty, the Tribunal does not regard administrative convenience as a sufficient justification for an adjournment.
The authorised medical officer should ensure that involuntary patients are brought before the Tribunal well before the expiry or review date and with sufficient information to allow the matter to be finalised without the need for an adjournment.
Although the Tribunal has power to adjourn proceedings, it does not have power to extend the operation of community treatment orders beyond their expiry date by granting an adjournment. Unless a new order is made before the expiry of the existing order, the client will no longer be subject to the order. Therefore, to ensure continuity of care mental health facilities should ensure that the Tribunal is provided with the necessary information in a timely manner to allow it to hold a hearing and make the necessary order within time. Any adjournment will only have effect during the term of the existing community treatment order.