The Cardiff Univeristy Bond Solon accreditation is divided up into 4 modules over 5 days: Report Writing, Witness Familiarisation, Cross Examination and Law and Procedure (2 days) and must be completed within 2 years. This allowed me to attend the modules atr my own pace and digest the information at each stage. I had no experience in the field of Expert Witness work prior to the course and feel Bond Solon provided the information in manageble amounts without over complicating the process for someone who is not familiar with the law or court process.
The Excellence in Report writing module provided a brief description of the requirements of an expert witness and the legal terminology. I did this day in a classroom environment, throughout the day time was taken to explain in detail the outline of a good report. Emphasis was placed on all the legal requirements of a court approved document including Civil Procedure Rules 35 (CPR Part 35) and Practice Direction 35 (PD35). It was made clear that reports must be understood by the layman and always remain objective to the courts. Sample reports were provided and we were split into groups to critique each report once we had an understanding of what made a good report.
Prior to the Courtroom Skills Day a short pre-report was requested.
The Courtroom Skills Day I attended was virtual. Even though it was a virtual format it provided a good breakdown of the court process for someone who has never attended court as a witness. The different types of courts were described and how the hierarchy system works with complex cases escalating through the court system. I was provided with useful information on being in the witness box, taking the oath or affirmation. Advice was given on body language techniques to ensure you answer to the court decision maker ie the Judge when asked a question by council in cross examination. A short 5 minute cross examination on the pre-report submitted was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the process. This provided a good overview on the court process and prepared me for the Cross Examination day.
Prior to the Cross Examination day, a full report was to be submitted in your expert field and this would be used in the Cross Examination.
The Cross Examination day which again I did virtually provided candidates with the opportunity to have a practice cross examination and be provided feedback by the solicitor. In the afternoon all candidate were video recorded doing a cross examination and this was sent to Cardiff University for marking as part of the CUBS accreditation.
The two day Civil Law and Procedure was also done virtually and went into great details of the different types of law and the importance of understanding these for working in the medicolegal field. The 2nd half of day 2 all candidates completing the CUBS accreditation sat a multiple choice test as part of the course to be sent to Cardiff for marking.
I feel this course provided me with a good understanding of what is required of an expert witness and the handouts are a good source of reference. I work thoroughly recommend it to anyone considering working in the field who has minimal experience of the court system or how to write a report. I am extremely grateful to the OETT for assisting in funding this course and aiding in my continual development as an Orthotist.