Written by two of the country's leading specialists in mental health law, this book provides a detailed overview of the law and the socio-legal, historical, sociological, and cultural issues that surround it. Mental health law, at its heart, involves the forcible confinement and medication of some of society's most vulnerable people, and the authors look closely at the legal and social issues raised by this, and the human rights of those who suffer from mental illness. With reference to recent cases and new legislation, Peter Bartlett and Ralph Sandland analyse the legal structure and functions of the mental health system, and the problems of characterizing mental health law. The case law and statutes contain implied premises as to what it is to be a citizen, what the role of the state is for the vulnerable, and what the relative roles of law and medicine are in the regulation of control and deviance. Mental health law is an area of considerable legal and social complexity, and the authors challenge readers to question the system and the policies that have been developed.