Operating on automatic pilot? Sleep and society: Confrontations with the law and Section AGM


Wednesday 18 May 2016


Venue Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
Organised by

Sleep Medicine Section


6 CPD points

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about this event

Sleep medicine is a new multidisciplinary, cross-speciality area which interacts with the law in several ways. There is often a need for expert witnesses either for cases involving involuntary behaviour or for involuntarily falling asleep or making mistakes caused by tiredness and sleepiness. A doctor can find themselves both on the witness stand and in the dock. This one day conference aims to address the relationship between sleep and the law.

At the end of the meeting delegates will: 

  • Be able to identify the role of sleep in road traffic collisions and what to do if any defences are available
  • Be more familiar with what to do if accused of a crime: Before, during and after
  • Be able to identify sleep disorders, if any, that can be used in murder, manslaughter, rape and sexual assault cases
  • Have a greater understanding of the nuances of mental performance affected by sleep in putatively criminal situations
  • Be updated on how to be a proficient expert witness
  • Have a better understanding of the current law and how it could be affected by the Law Commission proposals


Bursary places

The  Section is offering 5 Student and 5 Trainee bursary places. If you would like to apply for one of the places, please contact Event Co-ordinator with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Institution
  • Dietary requirements  


We would like to thank UCB Pharma Ltd for supporting this meeting

This meeting is run under Chatham House rules

Programme subject to change


8.30 am

Registration, tea and coffee

9.00 am

Welcome and introduction

Dr Chris Idzikowski, Immediate Past President, Sleep Medicine Section, RSM

9.05 am

Fundamental issues in forensic sleep medicine

Dr Chris Idzikowski

9.20 am

Sleep disorders and automatic behaviours

Professor Matthew Walker, Professor of Neurology, University College London

10.00 am

Sleep-related road collisions and driver responsibility

Professor Jim Horne, Emeritus Professor of Psychophysiology, University of Loughborough

10.45 am

Panel discussion

11.00 am

Tea and coffee break

11.30 am

Doctors in the dock

Mr Ian Barker, Senior Solicitor, Medical Defence Union

12.10 pm

Sleepwalking into disaster: Pitfalls for the expert witness

Professor Keith Rix, Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, University of Chester and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

1.00 pm

Section AGM

Section Members only

1.15 pm


2.00 pm

Shades of voluntariness

Dr Lisa Claydon, Senior Lecturer in Law, Business School, Open University

2.30 pm

Amnesia, automatism and criminal behaviour

Professor Michael Kopelman, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry, King’s College London

3.00 pm

Tea and coffee break

3.30 pm

The current law

Professor Ronnie Mackay, Professor of Criminal Policy and Mental Health, De Montfort Law School, De Montfort University, Leicester

4.00 pm

The proposed new law: Not criminally responsible by reason of a recognised medical condition

Professor Paul Catley, Head of Law School, Open University

4.30 pm

Panel discussion

4.50 pm

Completion of evaluation forms

5.00 pm

Close of the meeting

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organiser's details

For information on this event, contact Jomile NakutaviciuteTel: 02072903942 Fax: 02072902992 Email: sleep.disorders@rsm.ac.uk arrow