The Sydney Neurolaw Project based at Sydney Law School, has finished work on a detailed “neurolaw” reader and case law resource. The resource maps the terrain of the emerging field of neurolaw, providing a guide to current practical questions in law that are directly affected by developments in neuroscience research. We are also developing a case law data base, which is a collection of cases indicating the uses of neuroscience evidence in Australian courtrooms. The resources will lay the foundations for a broad research program in neurolaw based in the Law School, and a related new postgraduate Unit of Study in Neurolaw, to be offered in 2016. Both the unit of study and the research program more broadly, touch on issues of legal capacity and responsibility for people with neurological and psychosocial impairments, and human rights and discrimination affecting people with mental impairments. We also look at the legal uses of neuroscience for people in the general population. This includes proving “invisible injuries” in court – such as pain, or psychiatric injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the role of neurological “proof of consciousness” in end of life decision making. We look at potential stigma associated with brain-based explanations of human behavior, and its treatment in discrimination law, the impact of judge’s psychology on the curial process, and areas in which empirical research is still needed to develop appropriate “evidence-based law”.
For more information on the Sydney Neurolaw project, neurolaw research, or postgraduate coursework, please contact Sascha Callaghan.