Court of Appeal refuses request for expert in biomechanical engineering

Family Law|News|January 24th 2013

The Court of Appeal has refused a father permission to call an expert in biomechanical engineering as a witness in care proceedings.

The caseRe TG (A Child) – concerned a child who suffered multiple injuries 12 days after birth. The local authority began proceedings to have the child taken into care, but the parents claimed the injuries must have occured during an incident when the child’s older sibling overturned a bouncy chair on top of the baby.

During the proceedings courts granted permission for five different medical experts to be consulted on aspects of the case. The father than applied for permission to consult biomechanical engineering expert Dr Van Ee on the amount of force that have been applied by the overturned bouncy chair, and detailed tests were planned.

The father’s application was dismissed and he appealed, submitting a letter from a neuroradiologist claiming that doctors were not qualified properly assess the possibility that the child’s injuries had been caused by the bouncy chair.

But the father’s appeal was also dismissed. In his judgement, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby said any evidence presented by the biomechanical engineer would be of little value to the court  as there were no witnesses to the alleged incident:

“…the tests which Dr Van Ee proposed to undertake amount to a reconstruction in a case where it is impossible to arrange for a meaningful reconstruction given that no-one – not even the father – witnessed the incident he described. The ‘reconstruction’ would therefore be based upon speculation as to what actually happened.”

Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Ben Sutherland via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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