Expert Witness Reports: What you need to know

In this post, we explain what an expert witness report is and why you might need one

An Expert Witness Report (also known as a medico-legal or medico-legal) report, is a report which is written by a doctor or another health professional for legal proceedings. A medico-legal report is the written evidence of a medical or allied expert witness. Experts write medico-legal reports for actual or potential litigation.

Medico-legal reporting

Choosing the right expert

When we are instructed to provide an expert witness report, we select the most suitable expert from our panel. Choosing the right expert with the right experience is the most important first step when instructing an expert witness. We pride ourselves in showcasing our experts on our website so that you may be confident of the expert’s experience and qualifications. We also ensure that our experts have the necessary experience when it comes to the knowledge of the law and procedure. If you require an expert for civil proceedings, it is no good if the expert only understands criminal law and procedure.

Our experts

All our experts are practising clinicians as well as taking on medico-legal work. Ensuring that a medico-legal expert’s expertise is founded in clinical experience is very important when it comes to ensuring the quality of your expert witness. There are many medico-legal report guidelines which need to be adhered to so it’s important the person producing the report in knowledgeable in their field.

Our experts have acquired a breadth of clinical knowledge which makes them enquiring, able and authoritative in both their written and oral evidence. Our experts take their duties to the court seriously and are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity when it comes to their professional regulation. Currently, we specialise in mental health, so our experts are made up of psychiatrists and psychologists. As a growing panel, we will be welcoming experts from other clinical disciplines and allied roles in the near future.

Why instruct an expert witness?

In some cases, the need for an expert will be obvious. From an acutely mentally unwell prisoner who you suspect was mentally unwell at the time of an alleged offence to a claimant in employment proceedings who argues that their disability was neglected by their former employer, the need for expert medicolegal evidence will be clear. However, the requirement for an expert witness report in other cases may be less clear.  At Expert Court Reports, we are able to speak to you about the service that our panel may be able to provide; equally, we can advise when medicolegal evidence may not be warranted.  Whilst our experts are committed to adhering to medicolegal report guidelines, their expertise and past experience will be invaluable to accessing the right report for your client, be that a medical negligence report or a report to assess for disability in housing or immigration proceedings.

Proceeding without medical evidence may be detrimental to your case. For example, in medical negligence cases, proceeding to a hearing without reliance on a medical negligence report may result in an unsuccessful claim; equally, a defendant in clinical negligence proceedings who does not instruct their own medical negligence report may be unsuccessful in their defence from an inappropriate or exaggerated claim.  Being able to select an expert who is impartial is as important as finding the expert with the right clinical experience.  Always look for evidence that the medical expert has been instructed by both the claimant and the defendant.

The process of instructing an expert witness report

If you need to speak to an expert before deciding to proceed with seeking an expert witness report, our experts would be happy to schedule a call with you.  Once you have decided whether to instruct an expert, we can provide a fee estimate which you may share with your client or which you may use to support your application for legal aid funding from the Legal Aid Agency.  We provide services to privately paying clients as well as those who are in receipt of legally aid.

Sometimes our clients will already have a good idea of the size of the bundle which our experts will need to consider when preparing a report.  Do not worry if you do not, we are used to providing fee estimates with a fee range so that the fee charged reflects the work undertaken; alternatively, we can provide further quotes if the scope of the instruction changes; we never increase our fees without explicit communication with our clients.  Our fees vary on a case by case basis and are also influenced by the type of expert and his or her experience. However, if you are seeking a report for a client who is legally-aided, we have experts who are happy to work within the limits of legal aid funding.

Attendance at court

All our experts have experience of attending court and tribunals to give oral evidence.  Further, they have specific training in giving oral evidence and are confident in their ability to speak clearly, confidently and with good voice projection.  Whilst our experts are authoritative and reliable in their delivery, they ultimately understand the limits of their expertise and respect the authority of the court and law.  It is always helpful for our experts to be warned of potential trial dates so that we may ensure that their diaries are vacated in good time.  We also understand the importance of attending legal conferences prior to court hearings, as well as the process of establishing points of agreement and disagreement between experts.  One of our guiding principles is that we are here to help make the process of accessing expert witness testimony simple, straightforward and timely.  We also commit ourselves to be reliable, trustworthy and accessible.

Hire an Expert Witness

At Expert Court Reports, we aim to make it as easy and straightforward as possible for you to instruct a medico-legal expert.  You may make contact with us via our simple online contact form, call us on 01865 587865 or by requesting a call back from our team via the link below.

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