June Guidance from the FJC and BPS as to ‘Psychologists as Expert Witnesses in the family courts in England and Wales’ gains media attention

The Guidance issued on 1 June 2023 by the Family Justice Council and British Psychological Society, entitled “Psychologists as Expert Witnesses in the family courts in England and Wales: Standards, competencies and expectations” has been gaining media attention, including in the Observer.

The Guidance has been updated to include additional guidance in relation to the instruction of psychologist expert witnesses, specifically the scrutiny of their regulation, their qualifications and their access to psychological tests given in(Re C (‘Parental Alienation’) [2023] EWHC 345 (Fam), and a CV template is given in Appendix 6 to assist psychologist experts in meeting this requirement.

The Guidance also notes in Chapter 3 the matter of ‘protected titles’ and cites the guidance from Re C (‘Parental Alienation’) [2023]EWHC 345 (Fam), that in every case the court should identify whether a proposed expert is HCPC registered and where the expert is un-registered, it is for the court to indicate in a short judgment why it is, nevertheless, appropriate to instruct them.

In the Observer Article, Consultant clinical psychologist Dr Jaime Craig, lead author of the publication, is quoted as saying:

“Were you to see a psychologist in the NHS you would only see a practitioner and not a researcher. There are lots of psychologists who do very interesting research but they are not qualified to make assessments and diagnoses – or deliver treatment.

There is a latitude in the family courts for psychological evidence that doesn’t exist for medical evidence, and that is problematic…”

The Guidance can be accessed here.

The Guardian article can be accessed here.