MULTI-SOURCE ASSESSMENT OF EXPERT PSYCHIATRIC WITNESS COMPETENCE: PROMPTS

1.    Professionalism

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Defensive; evasive; argumentative;  pompous; gets angry or flushed; aggressive; too definite;  inflexible; intransigent; 
            confusing; rambling; inappropriately dressed; disrespectful; unprepared; bullying manner
    •    Positive features
            Confident; dignified; appropriately authoritative; diligent; appropriately persuasive; calm; balanced; fair; personable; 
            measured; careful; independence of thought; organised;  

        
2.    Ethics

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Opinion tailored to improve party’s prospects; includes/excludes matters suggested by others without forming independent opinion; 
            willing to mislead as to fees; CV misleading, exaggerated or untruthful; misleads as to substance of material instructions; 
            material omissions; in experts’ meeting seeks to mislead as to what seen/not seen; refusal to reconsider opinion; failure 
            to comply with duty to correct or qualify when necessary; strays outside field of expertise; breaches confidentiality; 
            fails to disclose judicial criticism or professional regulator’s adverse findings
    •    Positive features
            Honest; discreet; trustworthy; plain-dealing; impartial; unbiased; respectful of justice; moral courage; identifies 
            potential/actual conflict of interest; uninfluenced by exigencies of litigation; restricts opinion to own field; recognises
            limits of expertise; refuses to change opinion to improve party’s prospects; withstands pressure to amend report where 
            the result will cease to be independent and objective; makes clear limits of knowledge or competence; discloses any 
            adverse criticism by judges; willingness to act pro bono or for reduced fees.
            
3.    Skills

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Inability to master complex technical/medical issues; inability to concentrate, absorb and assimilate arguments under
            time pressure; poor evaluative ability; inability to apply legal principles and tests; inefficiency in gathering and 
            collating evidence; poor judgement as to reliability of evidence; poor memory of salient details; poor reasoning 
            ability; becomes over-involved in the party’s team and loses independence of opinion
    •    Positive features
            Gets to heart of issue; masters complex technical/medical, factual issues; absorbs, assimilates, recalls sometimes 
            unwieldy amounts of information, salient issues within time constraints; evaluates facts and applies legal principles 
            and tests, answers legal questions; can gather, evaluate and weigh evidence reaching judgement as to reliability; 
            analytical ability; attention to detail; logical reasoning; identifies other important issues, missing information, 
            other necessary expertise; understands potential influence of litigation on litigant’s presentation; able to work 
            in a team without compromising duty to court
            
4.    Reliability of opinion

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Inference/conclusions not properly researched; opinion formed on inadequate basis; failure to give reasons for opinion;
            failure to take into account material facts; failure to mention all matters relevant to opinion; failure to mention 
            matters adverse to opinion; failure to include range of opinion; failure to explain why opinion is to be preferred 
            to other opinions in the range of opinion; failure clearly to indicate opinion is qualified; failure to revise opinion
            taking into consideration further materials; report is in form of advocacy
    •    Positive features
            Objective; soundly, well-researched and evidence based; well-referenced; thorough consideration of all relevant facts
            and issues; attention to detail; well-constructed; very powerful; includes assessment of reliability of information; 
            takes into account all material facts/relevant information; identifies weakness as well as strengths; identifies and
            accommodates unusual, contradictory or inconsistent features; clarity of argument and conclusion; range of reasonable
            opinion; indicates clearly if opinion is qualified and why; identifies and explains need for other expert opinion
            
5.    Presentation of opinion/Report

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Title of action missing;  author not adequately identified; contact details insufficient; commissioner of report missing;
            date of report only on first page; no reference to consent; margins too narrow; font size too small; pages or paragraphs 
            not numbered; poorly constructed;  written in third person; difficult to follow; unclear as to the issues; no explanation
            of methodology;  difficult to compare with other expert reports; insufficient headings/subheadings; typographical errors;
            extreme forms of expression; mixes fact and opinion; unclear what documents or records seen; no summary of conclusions; 
            fails to indicate underlying assumptions; insufficient details of relevant qualifications and experience; no glossary. 
    •    Positive features
            Organised; identifies title of action, case number and name of court; specialist field identified; identifies subject 
            matter; contents page; synopsis at beginning; list of relevant parties/institutions; clear statement of substance of all
            material instructions; good use of headers and footers; clarity as to questions/ issues; well-constructed; internally 
            consistent; logical; straightforward; very easy to read and understand for a lay person; easy to follow and navigate; clear;
            concise; succinct; neutral, non-judgmental language; short sentences; short paragraphs; facts and opinion separate; 
            separation of different types/source of fact; shows all sources of information; attaches/includes copies of relevant 
            unpublished documents; sufficiently detailed list of papers, chapters, books cited
            
6.    Understanding of law, procedure and rules of evidence

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Regards duty as being to instructing solicitors; misunderstands, or ignorant of relevant statute and/or case law; wrong legal
            test; wrong standard of proof; fails to comply with relevant rules, practice directions and protocols; missing or inaccurate
            declaration or statement of truth.
    •    Positive features
            Understands duty to court; understands relevant statute and/or case law; understands relevant legal tests; applies correct 
            legal tests; understands relevant rules of evidence, eg burden and standard of proof; understands relevant rules, practice 
            directions and protocols; appropriate and accurate declarations and statement of truth  
            
7.    Oral testimony

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Sharp; evasive; over-defensive; fences; drawn into argument or slanging match; biased; lacking independence; outraged at line 
            of questioning; pedantic; didactic; unqualified and dogmatic opinion; too definite;  pompous; egotistical;  tries to be 
            clever; arrogant; patronising; condescending; over-confident; unconvincing; opinion based on limited or flawed evidence;
            attempts to cover up, blame someone else, deny wrong; reluctance to re-examine opinion in the light of further evidence;
            inappropriately sticks to opinion through thick and thin; flustered; unsure; loses cool; gets angry; looks anxious,
            nervous, worried; inappropriately dressed; talks too loud during proceedings; talks or moves when witnesses or jury being sworn. 
    •    Positive features
            Confident; knowledgeable; authoritative; impartial; reassuring independence; careful; patient; measured;  calm; masterly;
            authoritative; objective; robust; internally consistent; logical; succinct; precision; clear explanation; modifies delivery,
            language, content according to audience; relentlessly polite,  respectful, courteous; understands evidence and arguments
            under time constraints; moderated response to searching, informed cross-examination; communicates clearly in spite of 
            provocation; can entertain alternative points of view;  acknowledges fairness of points contrary to party’s case, clear 
            rebuttal of such if appropriate; faces up to and accepts logic of propositions; appropriate concessions; willing to 
            change/ modify opinions when appropriate; personable; jury-friendly with appropriate professional detachment from 
            ‘the fray’; professional, dignified dress and behaviour; observes court etiquette 
            
8.    Business manners and affairs

    •    Negative features                                                                   
            Difficult to contact; messages unanswered; curriculum vitae not provided; curriculum vitae insufficiently detailed to 
            decide whether or not the expert is appropriate; date of consultation with subject of report repeatedly changed resulting
            in delay; report delivered after agreed deadline; delay in answering questions, meeting other party’s expert, preparing
            joint statement; does not make clear difficulty in attending trial; insufficiently detailed invoice
    •    Positive features
            Easy to contact; sufficient information about proposed fees; identifies and explains potential conflict of interest; explains
            difficulties in complying with deadlines; able to prioritise case where appropriate; easy access to up-to-date commitments 
            list that includes sufficient details of other trials to facilitate liaison between solicitors and courts; clarity as to 
            travelling expenses, disbursements, cancellation charges; prompt responses to requests for clarification or amendment; 
            accurate, expeditious and ethical recording of work and invoicing. 
            
            

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