A Code of Practice and performance standards for pathologists dealing with suspicious deaths has been published by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Royal College of Pathologists. The Code provides that:
When applying for sanction to employ a defence pathologist please provide details of:
We will give priority to those applications and can grant sanction over the telephone where required. When a telephone grant of sanction this should be followed up by an online application (please provide the name of our employee who confirmed the grant).
If after the consultation you require a physical post mortem, the request for sanction should be made in the usual way.
Where there are multiple accused in a case and there is a conflict of interest we will consider sanctioning more than one report and / or consultation, please highlight any issues at the outset of the case.
Most applications for the employment of a drugs expert relate to the issue as to whether drugs recovered are consistent with personal use as opposed to supply. Where the argument is that there is a lack of knowledge and control [section 28 of the 1971 Act] please provide additional information as to why a drugs report is required. The same applies to situations where there is a special defence of incrimination.
We require detailed information as to the need for any report from a psychologist with reference to:
Please provide details of:
Where an application is made for a psychologist to examine a joint investigative interview of a child please provide detailed information about any perceived flaws in the conduct of the interview. We will generally not pay for an expert to travel to a procurator fiscal’s office for the purpose of viewing the interview.
When making an application for a psychiatrist to examine the assisted person please provide:
In general, we will not sanction a psychiatric examination for the purpose of making a diagnosis of mental illness.
Where a report is required in relation to proceeds of crime proceedings we require a copy of the Crown Statement of Information in order to properly assess any sanction request. Any request for additional sanction should be supported with a copy of any report prepared by the instructed expert. We often see requests for the employment of forensic accountants in DWP fraud cases. In such cases, we find it is more appropriate to instruct an expert in the field of benefit entitlement.
Inquiry agents are reporting on facts as they find them as a result of their investigations, and should not be treated as expert witnesses. You may, however, need our prior approval if the work is of an unusual nature or is likely to involve unusually large expenditure costing over £2,000.
We treat the use of an interpreter or translator as an ordinary outlay, for which you do not need our prior authority. When you send us your account, you will have to satisfy us that the outlay was actually, necessarily and reasonably incurred.
Family doctors are not classed as experts, even though they have specialised medical knowledge. Such a witness would be giving evidence on complaints made to them about a client’s symptoms and the treatment they gave. You do not need special authority to employ a general practitioner.
Hospital doctors below the status of consultant may have to speak to injuries they have observed and treatment given, but they would be classed as witnesses as to fact and you do not need special authorisation.
Medical consultants may or may not count as an expert witnesses, depending on whether they are speaking to treatment they have given to someone or whether they have been consulted specially for an opinion in connection with a prosecution.
Photographers employed to take photographs of a locus are not classed as expert witnesses.