Psychiatrist expert witnesses in criminal proceedings
In criminal proceedings, psychiatrist expert witnesses are likely to be a forensic psychiatrist although other sorts of psychiatrists may have the relevant expertise depending on the charge and the profile of the defendant. Typical instructions in criminal law include:
- Assessing fitness to plead
- Assessing capacity to form the mens rea
- Forming opinions about legal defences such as insanity and automatism
- In cases of alleged murder, forming an opinion about diminished responsibility
- Making recommendations for disposal (e.g. considering a hospital order)
Psychiatrist expert witnesses in civil proceedings
In civil proceedings, psychiatrist expert witnesses may be instructed to establish psychiatric injury, and to comment on causation, prognosis and quantum. Such reports may be required because of claims of personal injury or in cases of clinical negligence. Common examples of psychiatric injury include adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. An exhaustive list of potential causes for psychiatric harm would be difficult to capture, but examples include violent assault, sexual assault, childhood abuse, and spousal abuse.
Claims for clinical negligence may arise from any breach of duty, may that be misdiagnosis, prescribing the wrong medication, and the failure to take adequate steps to protect a patient from self-harm. In cases where there has been psychiatric harm arising from personal injury or clinical negligence, psychiatrist expert witnesses are instructed to form an opinion as to whether the harm was caused by the index event or breach of duty. They are also instructed to provide an opinion about the impact of the psychiatric injury, its prognosis and the associated costs for treatment.
There are various factors which are taken into account when the courts value claims for psychiatric damage. These include:
- The claimant’s ability to cope with life, education, and work
- The effect of the psychiatric damage on the claimant’s relationships with family, friends, and others
- How successful treatment would be
- Whether the claimant would be vulnerable in the future
- Whether medical help has been sought
When else might you need psychiatrist expert witnesses in civil proceedings?
Psychiatrist expert witnesses may be instructed to comment on disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. Civil proceedings where this instruction is particularly relevant include matters relating to housing law, employment law, and public law. In housing proceedings, for example, our psychiatrists have the expertise to comment on specific issues such as hoarding.
Often, psychiatrist expert witnesses are instructed in immigration proceedings where a psychiatrist expert witness may be asked to establish mental disorder, comment on treatment, form an opinion as to the consequences of removal, and at the last stage in proceedings, the detained person’s fitness to fly.
What psychiatrist experts does Expert Court Reports have?
We have a large panel of psychiatrist expert witnesses. We have psychiatrists who specialise on forensic psychiatry, general adult psychiatry and intellectual disability. We also have psychiatrists who have clinical experience in forensic child and adolescent psychiatry and the psychiatry of old age. Our psychiatrists are established in their respective fields and are sought after as expert witnesses. If you are having trouble choosing between our psychiatrist expert witnesses, contact us and we will be able to talk you through your options.
As well as our consultant psychiatrists, we work with clinical and forensic psychologists, mental health nurses, GPs, and speech and language therapists, whose expertise is sometimes required alongside psychiatric evidence.
Why use Expert Court Reports?
A good psychiatrist 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. All our psychiatrists have established experience of acting as expert witnesses.