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Medical Experts in the Family Courts (The President of the Family Division Working Group)

18 December 2019

In Autumn 2018, The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane established a working group to identify the scale of the problem of medical expert witness shortages in the family courts, to look at the causes and to identify possible solutions. Mr Justice Williams was appointed to Chair the group with representation from the legal profession and Royal Medical Colleges.

Health professionals play an important role in providing expert opinions to the Family Courts to assist the Court in making the essential decisions for both the welfare of the child but also to protect the rights of the carers. 

Both health and legal professions have long shared concerns regarding the relative scarcity of medical expert witnesses willing to participate in family cases involving children. 

This is an excellent opportunity for the BPS to ensure the inclusion of psychology within this report.

Child and family psychiatrists and psychologists have already been identified as one of the main shortages in terms of expert witnesses.

Getting Involved

Send your comments to [email protected] using the response form.

The deadline for responses is the end of play on Thursday the 16th of January

Please note:

  • The society will only produce ONE response to any consultation.
  • Any response that goes under the society logo MUST be signed off by the relevant Board Chair and Branch Chair in the case of Devolved Nations.
  • Responses on behalf of particular Divisions / Faculties / Member Networks are not permitted under any circumstances.
  • Please do refer to the British Psychological Society Consultation Processes document which is attached before writing and sending any comments
  • Please ensure that all comments are based on Published Evidence and not solely on clinical opinion


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