Psychiatry – Learning Disability Expert Witnesses

What is a learning disability psychiatrist expert witness?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of mental disorders. Psychiatrists can subspecialise in several areas, one of which is the assessment and treatment of individuals with learning disability. This is commonly defined as having an IQ of less than 70, although it is always important to take into consideration the functional impact of any cognitive impairment when making a diagnosis.

A learning disability expert witness speaking with a young person

Learning disability psychiatrists have experience in all severe mental illnesses that a general psychiatrist would also treat, including schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorders. They also commonly assess and support people with neurodevelopmental conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder and ADHD. People with a learning disability are disproportionately likely to experience a mental health problem and this can present in different ways to the general population. For example, anxiety may present as a physical health complaint or a sudden change in behaviour which could appear as aggressive or withdrawn. Learning disability psychiatrists are expert in assessing these presentations and supporting people with a learning disability to maintain stable mental and emotional health.

How specialist is a learning disability psychiatrist expert?

All psychiatrists will have completed an average of five years of training at medical school before two years of foundation training, gaining a basis in different medical specialities. Trainees then start core psychiatry training, which lasts a minimum of three years and during which time the exams to join the Royal College of Psychiatrists take place. After this, trainees choose to subspecialise in one of a number of areas of psychiatry, one of which is in learning disability psychiatry. This takes on average a further three to four years.

Some trainees choose to start dual training in two subspecialties following core training. Learning disability psychiatry may be combined with child and adolescent psychiatry.

Why might you need to instruct a learning disability psychiatry expert witness?

Learning disability psychiatry expert witnesses may be instructed for an expert opinion in any case involving an individual with a diagnosed or suspected learning disability and a known or suspected mental health disorder.

It may be appropriate to instruct a learning disability psychiatrist expert witness in a case of personal injury, where there is suspected psychiatric or psychological injury to the client as a result of an incident or a sustained pattern of behaviour from other people. This may include, for example, work related stress or bullying, or an incident that has caused severe distress and trauma for example an arrest and search process.

In criminal cases, learning disability psychiatrists are often instructed to give expert evidence to establish fitness to plead and stand trial, psychiatric defences including insanity and diminished responsibility and recommendations for sentencing. They can also aid the court with concepts that are particularly nuanced and complex in cases where a defendant may have a learning disability and a mental health condition, for example whether the defendant had the capacity to form intent for the crime in question. This may be particularly complex in cases of sexual assault and exposure as the court may have to establish whether or not the defendant would be able to understand the concepts of consent and the nuances of sexual intimacy in the context of their learning disability. It will be very important to have expert evidence from a learning disability psychiatrist in such cases.

Incidences where a learning disability psychiatry expert may be instructed include:

  • Personal injury cases
  • Psychiatric injury
  • Assessment of cognitive function
  • Neurodevelopmental assessments
  • Fitness to plead
  • Psychiatric defences
  • Capacity to form intent
  • Prognosis/ability to follow court orders
  • Assessments of disability
  • Housing law
  • Clinical negligence

What experts does Expert Court Reports have?

We have a highly experienced and well-respected learning disability psychiatry expert witness on our panel, Dr Anil Kumar.

Dr Anil Kumar is an experienced psychiatrist with over 30 years’ experience as a consultant who has provided expert evidence in Court of Protection cases, criminal matters, mental health review tribunals and in personal injury cases. Dr Kumar has experience of providing psychiatric reports in a variety of legal settings. He has given oral evidence in Crown courts on matters of fitness to plead, insanity, diminished responsibility and to assist the court in sentencing. He has given oral evidence as an independent psychiatrist in numerous mental health tribunals. Dr Kumar has experience of providing psychiatric reports in a variety of legal settings. He is commonly instructed in Court of Protection matters (capacity to make decisions about residence and care, capacity to litigate and testamentary capacity), personal injury cases, fitness to plead and cases of diminished responsibility. He is fluent in English, Urdu and Hindi.

Why use Expert Court Reports?

A good learning disability psychiatry expert witness should come with years of clinical experience as well as specific competencies to act as an expert witness. Look for someone who has established expert witness experience. Our learning disability psychiatry expert, Dr Anil Kumar has many years of clinical practice and established experience of acting as an expert witness.

How quickly can you provide a report?

At Expert Court Reports Ltd, we understand the pressures of the legal profession. We recognise that litigation is subject to defined timescales and for this reason, we will be as flexible and accommodating as we are able to be. However, we pride ourselves on not promising work that cannot be reliably delivered within a given timescale. The quality of the evidence which is provided by our experts is subject to review and scrutiny. All expert reports are subject to a detailed and robust proofreading process to ensure that our expert evidence is accurate and expertly formatted.

Instructing an expert witness

If you would like to find out more about how our learning disability psychiatry expert witness could assist you, please call us on 01865 587865, email office@expertcourtreports.co.uk, or request a quote by completing our online form.