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Expert Witness Resources

Helping to make your job easier

At Psychology Direct we know that finding the best Expert Witness for your case or client can be a challenge.

That is why we have put together the information below, to help inform and guide you through the process.

Our dedicated team really are the experts behind the Experts

How to find a Psychology Expert Witness

Finding and choosing the right Psychology Expert Witness for your client’s assessment or treatment can be a very difficult business and is crucial to obtaining an Expert Witness report that best serves your client’s case.

When looking for an Expert Psychologist is it important to ensure that they are suitably qualified and experienced to undertake the task in question and that they can deliver against any report deadlines that may have been dictated by the Court.

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Do I need a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist?

We are often contacted by clients who are not sure if they need a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  Much of our role is to understand the details of each client’s particular requirements and provide guidance as to which type of Mental Health Professional, or indeed other type of professional, is most suitable.

The information in the articles below gives some helpful points to assist you in determining whether you need a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist.

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What is a Fitness to Plead assessment?

The law on unfitness to plead is concerned with whether or not an accused is able to stand trial and, if not, the procedure that should be used to deal with that accused. Where the issue of unfitness to plead arises, the court does not consider the accused’s guilt, but rather two distinct issues.

First, there is the question of whether the accused is “under a disability” which renders it inappropriate for him or her to be tried. This can be due to a disability caused by a physical impairment or a mental disorder. An example would be an accused who as a result of very low intellectual ability is unable to follow the process of his or her trial.

Secondly, if the court finds that the accused is under such a disability, the jury must determine whether or not the accused did the act or made the omission charged There is no statutory provision for the legal test of whether or not an accused person is unfit to plead. The test itself, known as the Pritchard test, is covered by the common law.

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Psychologists as Expert Witnesses - The Facts

A report by Professor Jane Ireland, published in 2012, claimed that up to 20% of Experts instructed in cases in the Family Courts are not qualified.

The National Centre for Applied Psychology published this paper in April 2012 in response to a publication by the University of Central Lancashire (UCL) of a summary report “Evaluating Expert Witness Psychological Reports: Exploring Quality”.

The Author of the UCL paper was Professor Jane Ireland and the research was conducted with funds from the Family Justice Council (an independent body, funded by the Ministry of Justice).

In the first report of it’s kind in the UK, Professor Ireland looked at 126 Expert Witness reports from Courts in the Midlands, North and South of England. Professor Ireland, who is herself an Expert Psychological Witness, also came to some other rather surprising conclusions. Including that two thirds of the reports reviewed in the research were rated as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ and that 90% of the Expert Witness Psychologists in the sample group were not currently in clinical practice.

Whilst Professor Ireland herself acknowledges that the report is a ‘preliminary study’ it does raise some challenging questions for those operating in the profession and also for solicitors and Courts who are responsible for instructing experts.

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Psychologists as Expert Witnesses in the Family Courts

Following the introduction of agreed minimum standards for experts reporting in Children’s proceedings in the Family Court, the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Family Justice Council (FJC) last month issued a proposal for standards specifically focused on Psychologists. The guidance is designed to provide discipline specific information in relation to regulation, codes of conduct, competencies, supervision/peer review and quality of service, and should be used alongside existing protocol

Although only a proposal at this stage, the majority of the standards are in keeping with our registration criteria and are considered by Psychology Direct as a positive approach to ensuring standards in the Family Courts remain high and that only top quality evidence is presented.

The proposals are broken down in the following articles.

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Standards for Expert Witnesses in Children’s Proceedings in the family court

On October 1st 2014, following a consultation period between 16 May to 18 July 2013, new standards for experts working in family proceedings relating to children became law. These changes are part of a larger undertaking to reduce extensive delays in family proceedings and follow the new laws implemented in April 2014 which mean a judge can only commission expert evidence if they consider it necessary for a just resolution of the case.

A recent examination of public family law cases has demonstrated the positive impact the new laws have had, with the average time being reduced from 55 weeks to 30 weeks. Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes believes that these new laws will place children at the ‘heart of the family justice system’ and that the negative impact that extensive delays have on the children involved can be significantly reduced by ensuring that only qualified and experienced experts provide an opinion.

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Summary of changes to Expert Witness fees

As you may now be aware significant changes in the Legal Aid system came in to effect on the 3rd October 2011. Whilst the majority of the Consultation is in relation to Lawyer’s fees, the Commission have addressed cost control of experts, aiming to increase transparency and consistency but, above all, to control the ‘unsustainable’ rising costs of expert fees.

Incredibly neither the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) nor the Legal Services Commission (LSC) have current, up to date data on expert costs, mainly because payments to experts are not currently recorded separately from other disbursements by the LSC. With the current system, the LSC tries to control expenditure through ‘prior authority’; however, there is currently no requirement for them to set a benchmark hourly rate and subsequently they feel they have been paying different amounts for similar work by different experts.

The proposal essentially aims to reduce expert fees by 10% and afford the LSC greater control over the costs of experts. The purpose of this document is to make you aware of the specific changes to the Legal Aid system that directly affects experts. The contents of our White Paper has been taken from The Community Legal Service (Amendment 2) Order 2011 and is stated here without prejudice. This document will be available to view on line at www.legislation.gov.uk in due course.

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Assessing the reliability and credibility of children’s evidence

Dr Sarah Krähenbühl, an associate member of Psychology Direct, Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University and also with The Open University, has undertaken extensive research on interviewing strategies used in children’s forensic interviews and as such has highly specialised skills in the area of child testimony. Dr Krähenbühl is a joint holder of a research grant from the British Academy to fund a project examining ground rule implementation in Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) and associated effects on children’s testimony.

In the last 2 years Dr Krähenbühl has written over twenty expert witness reports concerning the reliability and credibility of children’s evidence, competency and/or cognitive ability for the Family or Criminal Courts and have given evidence in the Family, Magistrates and Crown Courts in both England and Wales and Scotland. In a recent article in Counsel Magazine Dr Krähenbühl explains that she has “come to realise that there is a lack of understanding and awareness of the role of the expert witness and what he/she can and cannot do in the assessment of children’s testimony.” She has also found that the quality of the information obtained during the interviewing of a child witness “varies considerably”.

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Example of a good letter of instruction for an Expert Witness

We see dozens of letters of instruction to experts every week and know only too well that a well written, clear letter can make a huge difference to the time, cost and quality of a report that the solicitor receives from an expert witness.

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What is a Psychology Expert Witness?

Mental Health and the Law are both complex and varied fields which can cross over each other at various points before, during and after legal proceedings.

The field of “Expert Witnesses” is a challenging one that requires the professional to be both objective and meticulous, remembering all the while that their overriding duty is to the Court.

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Get in touch

Contact us using one of the tabs on the form below, or call us on 01306 879 975 to find out how we can help. Alternatively, click here to request a call back.

Our process

It's simple, we understand your need and...

We match associates to your needs

You instruct & we manage the Admin

Report QC checked & submitted on time

Why Psychology Direct?

  • Experienced
    We have a long and excellent track record in delivering an outstanding service to our clients
  • Well networked
    An impressive register of over 1000 qualified Psychologists available for work at short notice anywhere around the country
  • Knowledgeable
    We know our professionals and we understand what clients need
  • Personable
    You’ll have a dedicated, accessible Client Manager allocated for the duration of your case
  • Efficient
    Accurate reports supplied on time, efficient administration and fast response times
  • Proactive
    We’ll provide all the support you need to make your job easier
  • Cost effective
    Fees normally the same or lower than approaching a Psychologist directly
  • Ethical
    Respect and understanding in our dealings with clients and Associates

FAQs

Unfortunately not, we only work business to business, through solicitors, local authorities, CPS, case management companies and schools. If you are a private individual looking for a psychologist please speak with your solicitor, school, GP or insurer.

If you wish to locate a Psychologist yourself then visit the British Psychological Society’s website at https://www.bps.org.uk/

Absolutely not! Our service is based on providing excellent value – and added value.

Not only will we secure you an appropriately qualified and experienced Psychologist for your case without all the time and hassle of searching for one yourself, but we’ll handle all administration, bookings and ensure you get the report on time plus you’ll have a dedicated client manager at your beck and call too.

So you get competitive prices and all our extra support at no extra cost, meaning you save yourself time and money.

This is often an area of confusion. Understanding the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist can be crucial to securing the right professional for your case.

Psychologists are trained in human and emotional development. They use their extensive knowledge of human emotions, behaviour and mental health to assess the problems being experienced by their clients. Based on their expert assessment; conclusions, recommendations and treatment plans will be presented in a report as required. Psychologists use a range of assessment techniques including psychometric testing as well as varied therapeutic models in order to understand and improve the mental health and psychological well-being of clients.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors and as such are qualified to prescribe medication (such as anti-depressants) or in more extreme cases recommend hospitalisation, to help assess and manage the symptoms being experienced by the person concerned.

In some cases, it may not be immediately clear whether a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist is required. A complex case may even require both. Our extensive register of professionals includes both Psychologists and Psychiatrists, and our knowledgeable client team are on hand to give you the advice you need and supply the right type of professional. If you have any questions at all, just give us a call.

Yes. We are fully aware and understanding of our clients’ budgets, so all our Psychologists work to Legal Aid rates.

We can also supply CVs and quotes for 3 Experts with the full breakdown of hours, as required by the Legal Aid Agency.

First of all, contact us! You can call us on 01306 879 975. You can request a call back. You can email us or use our contact form. Once we have your initial contact request, we’ll respond within an hour. One of our Client Managers will take a brief of your requirements, and get to work straight away, using their knowledge of our network of Psychologists and Psychiatrists to get you 3 CVs and quotes within 24 hours. Once an Expert Witness is instructed, bookings for assessments and all other administration required for the case will be managed by us and we will ensure that the report is delivered within your required timescales.