‘A Practical Guide to Insane and Non-Insane Automatism in Criminal Law – Sleepwalking, Blackouts, Hypoglycaemia, and Other Issues’ by Ramya Nagesh


Paperback: 978-1-913715-89-2
Published: November 2021
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Even the most experienced practitioners can be faced with a case that catches them off guard. They may be well-versed to deal with cases involving self-defence, factual denial or identification issues. What about when the accused claims they were sleepwalking, in a hypoglycaemic state or suffering an epileptic seizure?

This book will give you the answers to those questions and many more that arise from the complex but ever-interesting subject of insane and non-insane automatism. It deals with those cases that rest in the grey areas of the law; those where the person accepts carrying out the action but claims that they were not able to control their actions. The courts have dealt with cases differently, sometimes resulting in controversial and apparently illogical decisions. This book provides a comprehensive and clear explanation of what the law is, why it is that way and how the cases fit together. All in all, it is a must-have for any person working in the criminal justice system today, and indeed any person who has ever wondered what on earth ‘automatism’ really is.


Ramya Nagesh is a practising barrister at No5 Chambers. She acts in the full range of criminal matters, from the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in between. She is particularly interested in issues that raise complex and novel points of law and practice. The topic of Insane and Non-Insane Automatism does not disappoint. As a result of her keen interest and research in this area over the last nine years, she has written articles in peer-reviewed criminal law journals and continues to deliver seminars on the subject.

Ramya has written two other books on the subject of criminal law: A Practical Guide to the Law In Relation to Hate Crime and Covid-19 and the Criminal Law: an Essential Guide.


Chapter One – An Overview of Insane and Non-Insane Automatism
Chapter Two – Insane Automatism
Chapter Three – Non-Insane Automatism
Chapter Four – Diminished Responsibility – a Third Option
Chapter Five – Special Cases – Epilepsy
Chapter Six – Special Cases – Diabetes
Chapter Seven – Special Cases – Sleepwalking
Chapter Eight – Special Cases – Intoxication
Chapter Nine – Special Cases – Discrete Situations
Chapter Ten – Scope for Reform?
Conclusion – Practical Tips