The Mental Health Alliance has criticised the new Mental Health Act as a "missed opportunity for legislation fit for the twenty-first century".
The Alliance say the final Mental Health Act 2007 published earlier this week still fails to modernise mental health law or to promote equality for people with mental health problems.
Alliance Chair Andy Bell said: "While other countries, often with less well-developed mental health services, are fundamentally modernising their mental health laws, our already outdated law has at best been mildly improved."
He adds that the Mental Health Act is a "disssapointment" and people have not been offered greater choices and rights to services.
Alliance Vice-chair Rowena Daw added that the Mental Health Act is "profoundly paternalistic."
He says the omission of a test of impaired decision-making and the failure to give patients a right of appeal against the are "fundamental weaknesses in our legislation that will eventually have to be put to right."
He adds: "But there is still hope. Many key aspects of how the Act will work in practice have been left to he Code of Practice.
"The Alliance will make every effort to achieve further improvements in the Code and to give service users and their families a voice in that vital process."