Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book Update 66 published

Following the commencement of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 on 27 March 2021, [4-150] Special hearings and [4-300] Unfitness have been removed and consolidated into a completely revised chapter [4-300] Procedures for fitness to be tried (including special hearings). The new Act replaces the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990. See
[4-302] Application of the Act, where there is discussion of the transitional provisions and how they impact on proceedings which had commenced before 27 March 2021.

One of the most significant changes made by the Act is in the introduction of a “mental health impairment” and a “cognitive impairment” as separate categories of impairment. The statutory definitions are summarised at [4-304].

The new chapter includes a Table at [4-320] which summarises the steps to be followed in relation to the procedure for fitness inquiries and special hearings in Pt 4 of the Act.