What is the test for a defence of insanity in the context of mental health cases?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from R. v. McDonald, 2002 BCSC 269 (CanLII):

Similarly, in Cooper v. The Queen (1980), 1979 CanLII 63 (SCC), 51 C.C.C. (2d) 129 (S.C.C.) Dickson J. (as he then was) on p. 144 said: … "disease of the mind" embraces any illness, disorder or abnormal condition which impairs the human mind and its functioning, excluding however, self-induced states caused by alcohol or drugs, as well as transitory mental states such as hysteria or concussion. In order to support a defence of insanity the disease must, of course, be of such intensity as to render the accused incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the violent act or of knowing that it is wrong. And at p. 145 et seq: To "know" the nature and quality of an act may mean merely to be aware of the physical act, while to "appreciate" may involve estimation and understanding of the consequences of that act.

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