Expert concern 3

March 3, 2006

The judgment by Mr Justice Collins in the Meadow case has enormous implications for the law and practice of professional regulation.

Forensic practitioners giving evidence in good faith are now protected from professional disciplinary proceedings provided the judge does not refer their behaviour to a professional body. For six years, the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP) has been building a register of competent practitioners who use professional skills to produce evidence for court. But the Meadow judgment does not preclude the CRFP acting where there is evidence of misconduct as envisaged in its code of conduct. The new immunity from professional disciplinary proceedings does not constitute a licence for expert witnesses to practise unethically or to commit wilful acts of misconduct.

The courts need help to establish the credentials of forensic practitioners. The CRFP's focus on practitioners' forensic skills can enable the body to deal with competence and incompetence among those who give professional evidence.

Alan Kershaw Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners

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