Professor Nigel Eastman

  • Year of Call 1976

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Introduction

Nigel is Emeritus Professor of Law and Ethics in Psychiatry in the University of London and an Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the National Health Service. He holds the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Medicine, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is a non-practising Member of the Bar, being called in Gray’s Inn in 1976. He has extensive experience of clinical forensic psychiatry, assessing and treating patients with severe mental disorders who have committed serious offences and/or who are facing serious criminal charges. He has also carried out research and published widely on the relationship between law and psychiatry, including being first author of The Oxford Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Nigel has been an advisor to the Law Commission, most recently being a member of the Criminal Law Advisory Working Party of the Commission in connection with its work in producing reports on the Law of Murder (2006) and Expert Evidence (2011), and currently concerning "unfitness to plead" and "insanity". He has other substantial experience of conducting work on public policy in relation to law and psychiatry. For example, he was a member of the Mental Health and Disability Committee of the Law Society between 1989 and 2012, is a member of the executive of the Forensic Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and was for 10 years chairman of the Law Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Nigel has given evidence to parliamentary select committees on law and psychiatry, most recently the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee addressing the then draft Mental Health Bill, which Committee published its findings in 2006, and the Public Bill Committee addressing the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill, now Act 2007. He was previously a founder member of the Clinical Disputes Forum, established by Lord Woolf, then Master of the Rolls, to improve the litigation process in clinical negligence cases, including in relation to expert medical evidence.

Nigel has extensive experience of acting as an expert witness in both criminal and civil proceedings, in this jurisdiction and in the jurisdictions of other countries. This includes conducting assessments in relation to approximately 400 murder cases over the past 30 years, cases, often being high-profile in nature. He has provided evidence to criminal courts in England and Wales at all levels, for both the defence and Crown, as well as to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in relation to Commonwealth cases and to courts at all levels within other jurisdictions. In relation to expert witness work, he is a founder member, and head, of Forensic Psychiatry Chambers.

He has lectured to the judiciary, including for the Judicial College, in relation to new statutory provisions for "diminished responsibility" and "loss of control". He is an expert member of the Foreign Secretary’s International Death Penalty Panel.