Reviewing the Laws

Court Witness

Louise is a qualified Expert Witness and Therapeutic Witness in the family courts for both civil and private matters. This qualification extends to both children’s matters and education matters.

 

Expert witnesses are different from other witnesses who give written or spoken evidence to a court. If someone is an expert, the court is prepared to accept their opinions about a case, rather than just evidence about what they have directly seen or heard (this sort of witness is called a witness of fact). The duty of an expert witness is to provide independent assistance to the court through their objective, unbiased opinion about matters within their expertise.

 

This duty is owed to the court and overrides any duty to anyone who is instructing or paying the expert. It is the judge’s job in cases involving children, to decide what the facts are if people can’t agree, and having decided the facts, to make decisions about what is in the best interests of the child. In straightforward cases, the judge can rely on the evidence of the people directly involved about what did or didn’t happen and will not need any help from an expert. However, some cases are more complicated and expert evidence is necessary so that the right decision can be made for the child. For example, if a child is physically injured and no one can say how it happened. Or if the court needs to know more about the mental health issues facing the parents. These are areas which can only be properly understood by people who have specialised training and experience. It is unlikely to be useful to ask a judge to make a decision about such issues without some help.

Therapeutic Witnesses help to decrease distress, psychological symptoms and maladaptive behaviour, as well as improving adaptive and personal functioning through the use of interpersonal interaction, counselling or activities following a specific treatment plan. Treatment focuses on some facet of how clients feel (affect), think (cognition) and act (behaviour).

This will address a number of issues, including;

  • the impact of the incident on the child

  • improving the self-esteem and confidence of the child

  • providing the vulnerable or intimidated child with information with regard to dealing with and avoiding abusive situations. The purpose of this is to help the child to protect him/herself and to access appropriate help

  • treatment of emotional and behavioural disturbance, for example post-traumatic stress disorder

  • treatment of a child who has been highly traumatised and shows symptoms which give rise to concern for his/her mental health.

 

Contact us if you have a court matter that we could help with.