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  • Handbook for Expert Witnesses in Children Act Cases, A
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Handbook for Expert Witnesses in Children Act Cases, A


Provides practical advice and guidance on giving evidence in Children Act cases

Paperback i

Book printed softcover

A 10.3% VAT charge will be added to this product at the checkout as it includes a CD-ROM.

This edition of the handbook is fully updated, includes several new chapters, and explains the way in which the courts, hearing proceedings relating to children, approach expert evidence. It aims to dispel misunderstandings and to help doctors and other related professionals to achieve an awareness and understanding of the important legal developments which have recently taken place. Accordingly the book aims to encourage more suitably qualified experts to take on this very important work.

 The Rt Hon Lord Justice Wall brings together advice and comment on the respective roles of the expert and the judge, the general duties of expert witnesses, preparing reports and giving evidence in child proceedings, to produce an essential guide for expert witnesses, judges and legal practitioners.

 Includes a CD-ROM containing the updated Expert Witness Pack, revised by

Dr Eileen Vizard
Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, NSPCC

and Penny Cooper,
Barrister, Associate Dean, The City Law School and Inns of Court School of Law
  • Meadow v General Medical Council (GMC)
  • Why am I doing this?
  • The Nature of Family Proceedings Relating to Children
  • Three Cardinal Principals Governing Family Proceedings
  • The Respective Roles of Experts and Judge: Why the Professional Integrity of Experts is so Important
  • The General Duties of Experts
  • What you can advise the judge about
  • Preliminary Enquiries of the Experts
  • The Nature of the Brief Given by the Court
  • The Letter of Instruction
  • Tour Enquiries: The General Rule and Some Pitfalls
  • Discussions between Experts Prior to Reports Being Written
  • Meetings of Experts Prior to Reports Being Written
  • Meetings of Experts Directed by the Court
  • Pre-hearing Conferences with Counsel and/or with the Solicitor who has Commissioned the Expert Report
  • Joint Instructions
  • Where there are both Criminal and Care Proceedings under the Children Act 1989
  • Writing the Report
  • Changing your Opinion
  • Preparing for Court
  • Witness Summonses (formerly known as Subpoenas)
  • What Happens at and in the Court: Introduction
  • At Court: Who can you talk to?
  • Giving evidence
  • Feedback and Complaints
  • Payment of Experts' Fee and Charges
  • The Public Law Protocol: Appendix C
  • The Family Justice Council
  • The Relevance of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA1998) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Which Expert? Psychiatrist or Psychologist?
  • Reliance on Psychometric Testing
  • Anonymous or Partial Instructions
  • The Dangers Being the Single Expert
  • What if you are the Treating Clinician?
  • Difficult Medical Issues in Which the Court has Become Involves
  • Will you be Named? Anonymity in Proceedings Relating to Children
  • The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)


  • Suggested Further Reading
  • The Family Justice Council
  • Care Centres and their Designated Family Judges
  • Her Majesty's Courts Service Estate by Region and Area and the Family Division Liaison Judges
  • A Note on Judicial Titles and Law Reports
  • Suggested Standard Document in Relation to Fees/ Charges
  • Model Free Note
  • Expert Witness Terms of Engagement n Legal Aided Children Act Proceedings
  • Courts Hearing Family Cases
  • The Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)
  • Proposed Guidance on Expert and Assessors in Proceedings Relating to Children
"This excellent book should be read by a range of professionals within the family justice system ... an essential contribution to the development of a coherent family justice system"
Child Psychology & Psychiatry Review

"Thoughtful and erudite, Wall LJ brings together his many years' experience, gleaned from the family courts, to provide well thought out and practical guidance ... A thoroughly useful guide for experts in particular, but also for lawyers wishing to promote best practice"

 The In-House Lawyer

"an essential guide for expert witnesses, judges and legal practitioners"

 Publication Monitor

"Experts will find this book very useful in so many ways"

 Association of Lawyers for Children

"I was very pleased to discover that a Second Edition (2007) had been published of this excellent book ... even if you have the earlier version, this is well worth looking at ... Everything is distilled into easily digestible bite-sized chunks ... packed with practical and useful advice for the expert working in this arena ... This is an excellent book which I would recommend as essential reading for anyone working in this area ... a useful resource"

 The Academy of Experts
Since Lord Justice Wall (then Mr Justice Wall) published the first edition of this excellent Handbook in 2000, the work of the family courts has come increasingly under the public gaze. Several high-profile cases have increased awareness of the complexity of the issues which confront family judges and magistrates, who are responsible for making some of the most important, difficult and long lasting decisions of any jurisdiction. Lord Justice Wall has himself been involved in illuminating those issues in a number of appellate judgments.

In October 2006, the Chief Medical Officer, in his report entitled ‘Bearing Good Witness’ noted the increasing volume of cases and a perceived trend towards the greater use of, and demand for, experts. His report made clear that many doctors continue to regard the courtroom as an unfamiliar and hostile environment and remain both reluctant and anxious about giving evidence in family cases relating to children.
 This second edition of the Handbook is particularly welcome, tackling headon, as it does, the major challenges facing any expert instructed to provide an opinion to assist the court in arriving at the appropriate decision.

The guidance provided is wise, detailed and practical. Its content is a model of orderly presentation, dealing in logical order with all the questions which need to be answered in clear and reassuring terms. It begins with an explanation of the three cardinal principles governing family proceedings and moves to close
 examination of the processes of taking instructions, report writing and court attendance. There is welcome recognition that courts and lawyers have not always understood the role of different experts or provided adequate instruction to them. This has been addressed in Appendix C to the present Public Law Protocol (PLP) which is set out and discussed in Chapter 26. The reader can be assured that, when the author states that none of the guidance in the handbook is in any way inconsistent with the currently proposed changes to the PLP, he speaks with authority.

Because of the importance of the case of Meadow v GMC,1 the Handbook includes a detailed exposition of its content. Lord Justice Wall is clear that the message to be learned from this case is that, if the work of the expert is conscientiously undertaken and the evidence given is honest, fair and wellreasoned, then provided the expert is giving evidence within his area of expertise, he or she has nothing to fear, and much to gain, from participating in family proceedings as an expert witness.

While the Handbook is addressed to medical experts, this revised edition should be required reading for all practitioners concerned with the instruction of such experts and the evaluation and examination of their reports. Indeed, I commend it to every professional who works with children in the family justice system as a slim but indispensable addition to their library.
Sir Mark Potter,
President of the Family Division
 Head of Family Justice

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Wall

With contributions by Stephen Cobb QC, 
1 Garden Court

 and Peggy Ray, 
Partner, Goodman Ray

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