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After Pool : Good practice guidelines for expert psychiatric witnesses

  • Keith Rix, Nigel Eastman and Anthony Haycroft

Acting as an expert psychiatric witness can be rewarding, but there are potential costs and pitfalls, such that the role should be undertaken only in an informed manner. With reference to the recent disciplinary cases of Dr Richard Pool and Dr Waney Squier, and a judgment of the Supreme Court, advice is offered to potential expert psychiatric witnesses. Suggestions are made as to training, the negotiation of instructions, the citation of published literature, the construction of expert opinion and how to ensure compliance with the ethical duties of the expert witness.


  1. Understand how psychiatric trainees can be prepared for assisting the courts and tribunals in the administration of justice
  2. Appreciate the importance of engaging in a frank discussion with potential instructing solicitors, prior to instruction, regarding areas of expertise and working knowledge, providing a balanced interpretation of the psychiatric literature and giving reasoned opinions that withstand logical analysis
  3. Know what processes can be used to enhance compliance with the ethical responsibilities of the expert psychiatric witness

Corresponding author
Professor Keith J. B. Rix, The Fermoy Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gayton Road, King's Lynn PE30 4ET, UK. Email:
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For a related article see Rix K, Haycroft A, Eastman N (2017) Danger in deep water or just ripples in the pool: has the Pool judgment changed the law on expert evidence? BJPsych Advances, 23: 347–57.

Declaration of Interest

K.R. sometimes receives remuneration for conducting workshops on court procedure such as those mentioned in this article. The purpose of this remuneration is to defray expenditure on costumes and props and producing related educational materials.

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Eastman, N, Adshead, G, Fox, S, et al (2012) Forensic Psychiatry. Oxford University Press.
Eastman, N, Grubin, D (in press) Insanity, diminished responsibility and personality disorder in England and Wales. In International Handbook on Psychopathic Disorders and the Law. Vol II: Law and Policies (eds Felthous, AR, Sass, H). John Wiley & Sons.
Gunn, J, Taylor, P (2014) Forensic Psychiatry: Clinical, Legal and Ethical Issues (2nd edn). CRC Press.
Ministry of Justice (2015) The Criminal Procedure Rules: Part 19 expert Evidence. Ministry of Justice (
Ministry of Justice (2017a) Criminal Practice Directions 2015 Division V (as amended November 2016 & April 2017). Ministry of Justice (
Ministry of Justice (2017b) The Duties of an Expert, The Expert's Report and Arrangements for an Expert to Attend Court. Ministry of Justice (,-the-experts-report-and-arrangements-for-an-expert-to-attend-court). Accessed 30 August 2017.
Percival, T (1803) Medical Ethics or a Code of Institutes and Precepts Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons. S. Russell.
Rix, KJB (2011a) Expert Psychiatric Evidence. RCPsych Publications.
Rix, KJB (2011b) Medico-legal work for psychiatrists: direction, not drift. Commentary on: ‘You are instructed to prepare a report’. Psychiatrist, 35: 272–4.
Rix, K, Eastman, N, Adshead, G (2015a) Responsibilities of Psychiatrists Who Provide Expert Opinion to Courts and Tribunals (College Report CR193). Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Rix, KJB (2015b) When is an expert not an expert? Question time for expert psychiatric witnesses. BJPsych Advances, 21: 295303.
Rix, K, Haycroft, A, Eastman, N (2017) Danger in deep water or just ripples in the pool: has the Pool judgment changed the law on expert evidence? BJPsych Advances, 23: 347–57.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2017) A Competency Based Curriculum for Specialist Training in Psychiatry: Specialists in Forensic Psychiatry (February 2010, update approved 2 October 2014, revised March 2016 and May 2017). Royal College of Psychiatrists (
Rutherford, J, Chalmers, J, Zigmond, A et al (2015) Guidance for Detaining Authorities and Tribunal Panels about Medical Evidence for First Tier Tribunal – Mental Health. Royal College of Psychiatrists/Tribunals Judiciary.
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Coopers (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd v Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung mbH (1976) (3) SA 352.
Dingley v Chief Constable, Strathclyde Police (1998) SC 548.
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 2056-4678
  • EISSN: 2056-4686
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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After Pool : Good practice guidelines for expert psychiatric witnesses

  • Keith Rix, Nigel Eastman and Anthony Haycroft
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