New standards for expert witnesses who present evidence in family court become law today (October 1).
According to a government press release, the new standards will raise the quality of the evidence presented by such witnesses in court, as well as helping to accelerate proceedings.
Under the new rules only recognised professionals will be able to give evidence in family proceedings featuring children.
Expert witnesses will be required to have appropriate knowledge and experience, be regulated or accredited by a recognised body and have suitable qualifications.
The new standards were developed in conjunction with the Family Justice Council, a government advisory body.
Simon Hughes, the Family Justice Minister, said the new standards meant the government had put “children at the heart of the family justice system”.
“The new national standards for expert witnesses will make sure that only top quality evidence is presented, as and when the judge deems it necessary. They will help us to make sure cases are resolved as quickly as possible and on the basis of rigorous advice.”
Read the official press here.
Expert witnesses are a regular bone of contention in the family courts. In May, the Court of Appeal ordered the government to fully fund the cost of an expert witness who had been consulted during a family case in which a father sought access to his daughter.