Thursday, May 16, 2013

Proposed new standards for expert witnesses in family court cases in England and Wales

New standards for expert evidence in family courts announced, Consultation launched on exclusion of ‘so-called experts who are not up to scratch’ Fanily Law Week (May 16, 2013?):
The Ministry of Justice has proposed introducing new standards for expert evidence adduced in family proceedings so that such evidence can be given only by qualified, experienced and recognised professionals. 

The government says that for too long there has been an increasing trend in England and Wales for expert witnesses to provide unnecessary and costly evidence – in the form of further written statements, clarifications and additional court appearances. This, continues the Ministry of Justice, can cause major delays in child care cases and in the worst examples this has led to cases being forced to start again.

Under the new plans, for which there will be a consultation lasting nine weeks, experts who are well-qualified and experienced will continue to provide their service in advising the family courts – but (what it terms) 'the so-called experts who provide evidence which is simply not up to scratch' will be excluded.

Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said:

"Poor quality expert evidence can lead to unacceptable delays for children and their families.

"By putting standards in place we will ensure only the highest calibre of evidence is permitted in family proceedings.

"We want to ensure that evidence being put forward is more robust and that cases are resolved more quickly. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss."

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The article is short on details about how the proposed tightening of requirements for expert testimony will be achieved.

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