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New standards for expert witnesses in family court

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”.

He declared:

“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.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. wiseacre says:

    Typically, the useless government press notice on the useless GOV.UK site has the words of the minister but no link to any information about the the actual standards.
    So yet again, we all have to march through treacle to get hold of information which ought to be readily available at the press of a button. Assessment = 2 out of 10 for the MoJ: must do better!

  2. Carol Bird says:

    Medical expert witnesses involved in the childs care should be duty bound to give medical evidence in Family court cases, they should have no legal opt-out to withhold medical files, everything written or said in the childs name should be on the table, but then we are talking about the secretive family courts of possibilities and probabilities, all conjured up to conceal the truth, in our case it concealed brain damage at birth within the proceedings but the information has always been held, pinned to the mothers own records by the specialist that delivered child

  3. Carol Bird says:

    How do they do this
    Unmarried parents in public law cases do not get the same justice as married couples
    the name of an unmarried couples child is changed from birth certified name, to Christian name, followed by the fathers surname, followed by the mothers surname to let the court know the childs parents are unmarried, making the orders within the case open for legal non-compliance due to no evidence exists in a child of the name stated

  4. anon says:

    “Expert witnesses will be required to have appropriate knowledge and experience, be regulated or accredited by a recognised body and have suitable qualifications.”

    So is this admitting that previously they haven’t therefore children have been permanently taken away from parents on the say so of unqualified “experts”. Just what parents have been saying for years.
    Does this qualify as negligence?

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