About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Are the Experts expert?

The Times reports on City University research which shows that 3 out of 4 lawyers fail to check the qualifications of their experts. The research authors call for a change in the rules to ensure that training and qualifications are taken into account before experts are selected. Of course, this is supposed already to be considered under the Protocol. However, I cannot remember the last time a Judge actually asked to see the expert's cv if all the parties were agreed that a particular individual was to be instructed. It may seem that there is some protection afforded in choosing an expert who is accredited, for example by the Law Society. But there is much more to it than that. It is important to consider questions such as how far away from clinical practice the expert is and what training they may have had in giving evidence in general and in family cases, in particular. I am also aware that a number of experts are assumed to have an expertise in a certain area simply because they regularly appear in the family courts eg a certain Psychiatrist who is assumed to be a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist when in fact she is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy or a certain Paediatrician who describes himself as a Forensic Paediatrician when there is no such qualification which is formally recognised, a certain Psychologist who is regularly asked to assess learning disabled parents when her clinical expertise is in the field of the elderly etc etc. And what pray is a Paediatric Neuroradiologist or a Consultant in Paediatric Bone Disease? Two resources which may help are the recent article by Chris McWatters on expert directory websites on Family Law Week and this Guidance on Type of Expert & Qualification on the 4 Brick Court website (where you will also find a an updated draft letter of instruction to experts . Your top tips for how to avoid pitfalls in instructing experts would be welcomed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We families are well up to speed on these experts . I am 1 of the pioneers for exposing these experts I do a video conference an highlight the way the experts operate.This is a lifeline for naive parents who have never ever harmed their children to be faced with an expert who works or says he works with peadophiles an also will carry out a 30 year old MMP1 test for a psych report .
When the parents can actually read your report an you explain and show your CRB check an discuss the lack of criminal convictions versus the report which should have 1 to explain the profile.
The intent to label parents prior to even meeting a parent is another big issue . These so called child psychiatrist's who are know to do this through the child's solicitor or Caffcass officer .This can an does happen to you before, ever having meet you or reading your medical notes. The whole of the court is brought into disgrace along with the complaints system. This JFF brings back a sense of justice rough justice guide to many who welcome the information of what can really happen in closed court for £150 per hour and experts who do not travel and think it is appropriate to let a child having treatment for cancer to travel up to see them.
Political Psychiatry is what it is otherwise known as an it is identified as a breach of a persons human rights to be abused in such a way.