In this module we examine various issues at the interface of mental disorder and criminal law from the perspective of the substantive criminal law and consider the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the legal doctrines with a view to evaluating those doctrines. We also consider various reform proposals, this being an area in which the Law Commission has been very active in recent years, and on occasion consider comparisons from the law of other jurisdictions.
Among the topics covered will be the insanity defence, automatism, the defence of diminished responsibility and its relation to other criminal law defences such as loss of control and intoxication and fitness to plead. We also consider some questions relating to mentally disordered persons as victim, rather than as defendant, for example we consider offences against mentally disordered persons under The Sexual Offences Act, and some of the issues that have arisen under The Theft Act, where the alleged victim is a learning disabled person. We consider the question of whether detention under the civil law under the Mental Health Act ever acts as ‘a parallel criminal justice system’ only without some of the safeguards for defendants in place in the actual criminal justice system (and conversely, arguments for thinking disposal under the Mental Health Act to be preferable). Finally, we consider various questions of sentencing.
Dr Leon McRae
10 x 2 hour seminars
Module assessment - more information
This module is assessed by written examination