You may be required to be a ‘professional witness’ for some types of work or you may choose to develop expertise as an independent ‘expert witness’. Find out more about these two different roles.
A professional witness is also known as a ‘witness of fact’. You will be asked to be involved in this capacity where you are (or have been) the treating physiotherapist or support worker and have first- hand direct involvement with a patient or situation. You cannot decline to be involved in this type of work and you are not paid.
Your role is to help the investigation establish what has happened and to give your factual interpretation of events. You cannot give an independent opinion and you should use your clinical records and other forms of evidence such as diaries as the basis for your statement. See our report writing page for information on what a report should contain and our Getting Support Pages for who can help you.
An expert witness is a person who has a particular professional skill as well as additional legal training in order to assist the Courts and Tribunals in making judgements. Expert witnesses provide an independent impartial opinion on particular issues of a case. You must be wholly independent of the patient, the treating physiotherapists, and the organisation. You can choose to undertake this work and you are paid for your involvement.
An ‘expert witness’ is not the same as an ‘expert clinician’. The expert witness role is to provide relevant expertise to help the legal teams decide how to proceed with claims and to assist the Court. You are required to give your opinion based on the information provided to you and any other information you use to reach your decisions. You may be required to attend Court. Expert witnesses must now have additional training in legal procedures and meet specific expert-witness practice standards.
Visit the MLACP website for more information on becoming an expert witness and our Getting Support Pages for who can help you.