Amnesia, being the inability to acquire and retain new memories and the possible impairment of retrieval of previously acquired memories, manifests as an increasingly popular defence in South African criminal courts. It is particularly
raised in support of a defence of automatism or criminal incapacity. This article presents a critical perspective on the assessment of amnesia by South African
criminal courts. The reluctance of courts to accept claims of amnesia is attributable
to the poor interface of law and psychiatry in the assessment of amnesia. Gaps exist between psychological knowledge of amnesia and knowledge required by courts for the correct judicial application of the principles pertaining to amnesia. The article also provides a theoretical exposition of the law applicable to the burden of proof where amnesia is raised as part of a criminal defence.