The Ministry of Justice has announced plans to cut the amount of expert witness testimony in family courts.
The department claims too many expert witnesses are paid to provide evidence of limited value. It claims that almost 90 per cent of care cases currently include expert witness testimony. While most cases feature an average of four reports, a quarter feature five or more, and almost one in ten include seven or more.
According to a report in The Guardian, ministers want new standards which would allow evidence only from “qualified, experienced and recognised professionals”. They hope to cut the more than £50 million in legal aid currently spent on such reports every year.
They revised standards would speed up the courts and “get rid of “get rid of time-consuming evidence which adds little value in helping judges reach a decision”.
Launching a consultation on the issue, Minister of State for Justice 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.”