The Roles and Duties of the Expert Witness

Author: Swann, Alice

Source: Child Care in Practice, Volume 8, Number 4, October 2002 , pp. 305-311(7)

Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

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This paper was presented as a keynote address at the 'Expert Witness in Children Order Proceedings Conference' at the Hilton Hotel, Belfast, 1 October 2002. As the roles and responsibility of the expert have, by and large, been determined by the court, this paper seeks to demonstrate how Case Law has been influential in this area. In summary, it is the role of the expert witness to advise the judge, to undertake assessment, to give an opinion and to consult with other experts with a letter of instruction providing the framework. The duty of the expert witness is to show objectivity and proper research. Consideration was also given to judges' views of experts. This ranges from critical to constructive comments. Specific issues, such as the possibility of the expert witness misleading, whether or not an expert can express a firm opinion about whether an event has happened, and whether a child is speaking the truth, demonstrate difficulties for experts as they seek to understand the subtleties of the law of evidence.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Child Protection Consultancy and Training Service, Northern Ireland

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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