As an expert you should be aiming to produce a report which is free standing – from which the reader can glean the key issues in the case, understand the evidence available and reach a clear understanding of the range of expert opinion, without needing to look at any other document.
What should a good report include?
- A title page - including:
- Numbered pages, short numbered paragraphs and appropriate subheadings.
- Your personal details, name, current post, summary of previous experience, your GMC registration number and whether you hold a current license to practice.
- Statement of the opinion you have been asked to provide and details of your relevant knowledge/experience enabling them to comment on the issues.
- List of documentation considered and relied upon in reaching your opinion on the case.
- Chronology and summary of the relevant evidence:
- Where you have undertaken an examination or performed other investigation(s):
- The opinion
- The concluding paragraph:
You must be honest and trustworthy when giving evidence. Make sure that any evidence you give or documents you write, or sign, are not false or misleading. You should recognise and work within the limits of your competence, and abide by this guidance even when giving evidence in non-medical scenarios.
Two key points:
- You must take reasonable steps to the check the information
- You must not deliberately leave out relevant information.
Following the Supreme Court decision in Jones v Kaney, expert witnesses are now exposed to the risk of being sued in respect of evidence given in court. As a matter of good practice expert witnesses should follow the relevant guidelines and rules, including the Civil Procedure Rules and the GMC’s guidance.
Provided they follow these guidelines, allegations of negligence can be rebutted. Members involved in expert witness work should keep MPS fully informed about the type of professional work they are doing, so that they have access to the appropriate indemnity at all times.
MPS has specific guidance about indemnity provisions when providing medicolegal reports/acting as a medicolegal expert.