Two Victorian mental health patients have taken their fight against compulsory electro-shock therapy to the Supreme Court.
A man named as "PBU" has received six electroconvulsive therapy sessions against his will while hospitalised for mental health issues in Melbourne, and is fighting an order for more, Victoria Legal Aid says.
A woman, "NJE", who is receiving treatment has also been ordered to undergo 12 sessions against her will.
"Each of my clients understands this procedure and is terrified of it," barrister Emrys Nekvapil told the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday.
The case focuses on whether a person has the capacity to give informed consent and how treatment options should be considered.
While PBU and NJE rejected their diagnoses of schizophrenia, Mr Nekvapil argued this alone did not mean they lacked the capacity to make informed decisions about treatment.
"Consent requires understanding, which both patients displayed," he said.
"(In PBU's case) what the doctor is saying is you cannot understand the information about ECT if you don't believe your diagnosis."
NJE believed ECT would interfere with her psychic and healing abilities, and became distressed when the therapy was discussed, the court was told.
"The very clear basis of the decision is because NJE does not accept the diagnosis," Mr Nekvapil said.
"The proper approach the tribunal has not applied is to ask is ECT ... (the) least restrictive way that this person can be treated?"
Outside court, Victoria Legal Aid spokesman Dan Nicholson said it was the first time these provisions of the state's Mental Health Act had been tested in the Supreme Court.
"Many members of the community would be surprised to hear that we still have ECT in Victoria or that it can be ordered against people's will," he told reporters.
"(Victorian) parliament's made a choice to have really important safeguards because of the nature of this treatment that many people find very invasive, and it's really important that those rights are actually made a reality.
"Both patients had no legal representation when ordered to receive ECT by the state's Mental Health Tribunal," Mr Nicholson said.
The procedure involves stimulating a patient's brain with controlled electrical pulses, which cause a seizure. It is performed under general anaesthetic.
The court case follows an unsuccessful appeal on behalf of the pair to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. It continues Wednesday.