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Providing witness statements or expert evidence as part of legal proceedings
- Jan 31, 2024
- Latest News
This guidance explains the types of legal proceedings you might get involved in as a medical professional, and the different types of evidence you might be asked to give. It sets out ten principles of good practice, when acting as a witness in legal proceedings. Along with specific responsibilities for witnesses of fact and expert witnesses. This guidance came into effect on 30 January 2024.
1. Good medical practice sets out the principles, values, and standards of care and professional behaviour expected of all medical professionals registered with us. Providing witness statements and expert evidence in legal proceedings builds on Good medical practice to provide more detail on our expectations of medical professionals in this area.
2. The professional standards describe good practice, and not every departure from them will be considered serious. You must use your professional judgement to apply the standards to your day-to-day practice. If you do this, act in good faith and in the interests of patients, you will be able to explain and justify your decisions and actions. We say more about professional judgement, and how the professional standards relate to our fitness to practise processes, appraisal and revalidation, at the beginning of Good medical practice. Introduction
3. Medical professionals play an important role in the justice system and other legal proceedings by providing factual, honest accounts of events and, objective and impartial advice if giving an expert opinion on matters within their competence and experience.
4. The quality and reliability of witness evidence and expert medical opinion can make a significant difference to the fairness of the decisions and outcomes of proceedings.
5. It’s clear from a number of high-profile court and tribunal cases that, where significant concerns arise about the quality of expert evidence, this may affect public confidence in expert opinion.1 It is essential that medical professionals acting as expert witnesses maintain high standards, given the potential for justice not to be correctly served.
6. More broadly, it’s important that, when asked to provide a witness statement or to act as an expert witness, medical professionals are clear about their legal and professional responsibilities, and have access to sources of advice and guidance to help them meet their obligations.2
7. This guidance sets out the professional standards that apply to medical professionals who take on the responsibilities involved in giving evidence. It does not provide advice on the different UK legal frameworks and procedural rules that apply to witness statements and expert evidence, although it takes account of relevant legal requirements.
For the full guidance please see