How our international medico-legal practice reports are compiled
How Expert Witness Neurological Reports Are Compiled
18 January 2023 | Gyrus Group
The Expert Witness Report in Brief
Gyrus Group experts receive instructions from insurance or legal firms to provide their expert opinion on how an incident may (or may not) have resulted in a brain injury or illness, and what the consequences of the injury or illness may be for the individual following the incident (if any). In forming their opinion, experts will review relevant documents (such as medical records and employment documents), may perform a clinical examination of the claimant, and will reflect on their own extensive experience in medical practice and on their understanding of the medical literature. Gyrus Group expert reports comply with Part 35 directions, meaning experts understand and confirm that their duty is to the court, and not to their instructor. Gyrus Group maintain a 50:50 balance between instructions received from claimants and defendants.
The Expert Witness
Gyrus Group’s expert witnesses are practicing medical consultants, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses involving the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system. These experts include, but are not limited to, neurologists, neuropsychologists, neuroradiologists, neuroendocrinologists, neurosurgeons, paediatric neurologists, occupational therapists, neurorehabilitation specialists, and more. You can read more about Gyrus Group’s experts on our ‘Legal’ page.
Part 35 Compliance
‘Part 35’ refers to the section of the Civil Procedure Rules (1998) which outline how and when experts can be called on to provide evidence to the court. The rules state that an expert’s duty is to the court, and that their duty to the court overrides any duties to the person/company who has instructed them and is paying them for their time. Experts must only provide relevant evidence, the evidence must fall within their area of expertise (and the expert should acknowledge when any aspect of their instruction is beyond their expertise), and the expert should make clear the instructions they are acting upon within their report.
The specifics of Part 35 compliance can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/3132/part/35/made
Components of an Expert Witness Report
The author (i.e., the expert) summarises their academic qualifications, experience of clinical practice, area of specialism, and GMC/HCPC registration information. If the author has produced expert witness reports in the past, they may include their medicolegal background (e.g., number of reports produced, distribution between Defendant and Claimant instructions).
The expert will then provide an introduction to the case as they understand it, outlining the information they intend to review and produce within the report, a brief overview of the incident, and listing any records made available to them for review. A summary of the background/issues directly relating to the claim (i.e., specifics of the index injury/injuries and mechanism, if known) follows.
The report should include a summary of relevant medical (and other, e.g., employment) records from prior to, pertaining to, and following the index injury. Gyrus Group provide administrative support to provide the expert with a summary of the information to be included in the report. The expert will review these records and may add their own emphasis or comments, where appropriate.
The expert will now report on their interview with the claimant, making it clear whether the claimant required any assistance (e.g., from an informant) in providing their answers. The report of the interview will cover the claimant’s understanding of the events leading to their injury, and their understanding of their abilities pre- and post-injury. If the expert also conducts a clinical examination of the claimant, findings from this will also be reported upon. The interview and examination provide both narrative and observational findings from which the expert can draw their opinion and prognosis, with reference to the relevant records previously reviewed.
Finally, the expert will provide a summary of their report, including all the key points that will inform the court’s decision. They will include a written declaration outlining Part 35 compliance and the expert’s acknowledgement that their duty is to the court. They will sign the document, and list any references to academic/medical literature used within the report (either explicitly cited or that have informed their opinion).