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Putting the expert in expert witness

Liz Ackroyd at Circle Case Management gives an overview of expert witness work in complex care cases



Liz Ackroyd, Expert Witness Service Lead at Circle Case Management, explains more about what the service entails, how to choose the right Expert, and how to effectively manage delays


Circle Case Management are pioneers in training, relationship building and cross industry communication; so, we can all work together to achieve better outcomes for a person.

Expert Witness Service Lead Liz Ackroyd is leading the conversation in how experts and legal teams can work seamlessly together to achieve better outcomes, improve working relationships and understand each other’s roles within the case.

So, how can you be a better instructing solicitor and how can we provide a better service to you? Liz explains how, both here and in her recent podcast.

When receiving an Expert Witness Service enquiry, what information is key for your department to be able to triage correctly?

The more information we can have, the easier it is for us to establish if we have a suitable expert/s. We need to know what type of report is being sought, for example is it a breach of duty, causation or condition and prognosis report being asked for?

Is it a screening report? Is there a fixed cost and, if so, what is it? Are there any deadlines we need to adhere to?

There have been occasions where we have had to go back to the referrer to establish what discipline they are seeking – is it a nurse, a midwife or a specific therapy?

We need some basic client specific information, in particular their age and their diagnosis. It would also be really helpful to know if a face to face or remote assessment is being requested.

Providing us with their postcode makes costing our quotation much easier.

We also need to establish if there may be any conflict of interest.

A brief synopsis of the case is extremely useful as is knowing an approximate bundle size (which again makes quoting easier).

How do you select the right Expert Witness for the enquiry?

Our experts have very clear area of expertise and are well aware of the need to only take on reports dealing with their specific client group.

We will offer the possible instruction to the team and will establish their timescales for the assessment and then completion of the report.

We may go back to the instructing party at this stage if the expert has some questions they would like clarifying before being put forward.

The most important thing we consider is that the expert we put forward is truly an expert and is credible.

There are times when we offer more than one expert to undertake the report if they have the relevant expertise.

Once the Expert Witness has been instructed, what further information might they need from the instructor?

It is very rare, but sometimes we may be missing some of the bundle and will need to request the necessary documentation.

We have asked the instructing solicitor to gain further information for us such as the sepsis policy or the dysphagia guidelines for the NHS Trust which was in place at the time of the index incident.

There may also be occasions when we clarify precisely what is being asked of the expert in a particular question to ensure that we are meeting their needs.

What can typically cause delays in delivering the report?

Illness, family issues and other circumstances outside of our control may impact on our ability to meet the date we have set.

However, we have a quality assurance system in place which means that our expert sends us the report approximately a week before the deadline.

This allows us some time to make up for a short delay we may have had in receiving the report, whilst still allowing the quality assurance to be undertaken thoroughly.

There are also occasions when further disclosure is made close to the deadline, which we understand is something beyond the control of the instructing party, but as our Experts are in clinical practice (which ensures they remain up to date) it may add a short delay to the solicitor receiving the report.

What can the instructing party do to assist with delays?

The most important thing, which works both ways, is communication.

Clear instructions which make it absolutely clear what the Expert is being asked to provide an opinion on.

Make the bundle as easy to navigate as possible and logical, ideally chronologically and paginated. If further disclosure is made, sending it to us as soon as possible.

If there are any changes in circumstance or new, vital information comes to light, the sooner we are made are aware the sooner we can amalgamate this information within our report and opinion.

Circle Case Management are your one-stop-shop for all Expert Witness requirements, from reports to rehab, pagination to medical record collation.

For further information regarding our services see www.circlecasemanagement.com.

To discuss your requirements, email expert@circlecm.com