Expert Witness Intermediate Report Writing Course (1 day)
25th February 2014
I was approached by a solicitor and asked if I would write an expert witness report for one of their clients who had a drop foot and leg length discrepancy following a surgical procedure. I had never done one before and after talking to 2 colleagues who regularly write expert witness reports, I realised there was much more to it than just writing an assessment report. I bought some books on writing medico-legal reports and scanned the internet for information. I read that the large majority of medical expert reports in civil claims is inadequate and fails to serve its proper purpose. I didn’t want my report to fall into this camp. I hence enrolled on the report writing course.
The course was arranged by the Expert Witness Institute and taught by Lynden Alexander who is a communication skills consultant, specialising in forensic communication and has trained over 5000 expert witnesses. The course content was very full with lots of examples of good and bad reports. We were given templates for our area of expertise (the other participants were from all sorts of professions, not only medical). We learnt how the particular use of words is vital in legal cases e.g.” in my opinion…” is good, “I think…” is bad; we learnt which declaration and statement of truth needs to be included in the report and where to find up to date protocols from the Civil Justice Council. Very important is that the expert witness has a Duty to the Court and not to the instructing solicitor.
Having started with no clue on legal matters, the course gave me confidence and information on writing medico-legal reports. I have now completed 1 expert witness report and 2 advisory reports (which are less detailed than the expert witness reports) and have had good feedback from the instructing solicitors.
Many thanks to the OETT for providing the funding to allow me to learn this skill