FJC and BPS joint-publish new guidance for expert witnesses

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The Family Justice Council (FJC) released new guidance for expert witnesses late last week, following longstanding criticisms of a rift in understanding between expert witnesses and the requirements of family law.

In collaboration with the British Psychological Society (BPS), the FJC has developed the UK’s first set of discipline specific guidance documents for expert witnesses, which contributors from the BPS say “provides the basis for best practice in family law”.

According to the BPS, the document, which focuses predominantly on the use of psychologists as expert witnesses, “provides discipline specific information in relation to regulation, codes of conduct, competencies, supervision/peer review and quality of service”.

BPS representative and appointed mental health specialist to the FJC, Dr Liz Gillett, said: “The need for guidance for both psychologists and family law professionals emerged in the context of a ground swell of dissatisfaction given blanket criticism of expert witnesses.

“This guidance represents a true fusion across and within psychological and socio-legal disciplines within that context and has been endorsed by the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, Sir James Munby.

“The BPS and FJC are proud to publish this guidance in the knowledge that now more than ever the family justice system needs to make the best possible decisions on behalf of children and their families and enable maximum contribution and best value from each constituent.”

A full copy of the new guidance can be accessed and downloaded via the following link: http://www.bps.org.uk/system/files/Public%20files/inf248_family_court_guidance_web.pdf

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