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Adept is the UK's first civil & structural engineering firm to achieve BRE Global BIM Level 2 Business Systems Certification. The certificate is awarded to Adept three months in advance of Government’s mandatory requirement for BIM to be applied to all publically procured buildings.

’Well done to Adept - we know that our BIM business certification process is challenging and rigorous but ultimately it will enhance the competitiveness of Adept in national and international markets and enable them to deliver better value to customers throughout the lifecycle of a project’ said BRE Group’s Director for BIM, Guy Hammersley.

Since 2013 Adept have applied BIM on all their projects including the new Next Distribution Centre in Doncaster, a Staycity Hotel in Manchester, the refurbishment of Leeds Kirkgate Market, the new Humber University Technical College and on residential projects for UK’s McCarthy & Stone and social housing organisations across the UK.

Adept’s Managing Director Erol Erturan says: 'BIM is a great way of demonstrating to clients that we have the right procedures in place at every level to deliver what are very rigorous Government requirements. It also simplifies the tendering process, as once a business is BIM certified its competence levels are guaranteed.’

Amanda Clack FRICS is today being inaugurated as the RICS President for 2016-17. Ms. Clack is a Partner at EY, and is Head of Infrastructure (Advisory), leading on infrastructure across government and the private sector.

Chartered surveyors spend a lot of their professional time helping clients who are involved in disputes. When problems escalate to formal tribunals, surveyors bring a range of expertise to bear. They act as advisers, expert witnesses, arbitrators, mediators and also as advocates.

The result of the referendum draws a line under the campaigns of the last few months. The British people have decided that the UK should leave the EU. There now follows a vote in Parliament, and a detailed negotiation for the UK’s exit.

by Christopher Sullivan, Partner, Malcolm Hollis Martin Burns RICS, Head of ADR Research and Development. 
It is a fact of life that disputes involving commercial and residential property will happen. When they do, the best thing parties to those disputes can hope for is quick resolution at minimum cost.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the United Nations have issued a call to organisations in the land, construction and real estate sectors, and those working with them, to take a leading role in responsible and sustainable business practices.

By Koch HCH, Newns K, Boyd T & Peters J

Professionals working in custodial, forensic, criminal, civil and mental health contexts regularly interview individuals to establish diagnosis, treatment requirements, medico-legal opinion, reliability and truthfulness. A common aspiration is to establish some form of ‘holy grail of detecting truth or deception which then informs decision making, whether it be forensic, clinical or judicial (Koch, 2016; Oxburgh et al, 2016).

The social psychology of lying and deceit detection indicates that deceiving others is an ‘emotional part of everyday social interaction’ (Grant et al, 2016). Deceptive detection is crucial both in terms of forensic crime detection but also in civil contexts where it is possible that claimants misrepresent what has occurred or types of alleged PI or loss. Recently personal injury claimants have faced large bills in the court when their PI claims were dismissed having been found to be fundamentally dishonest (Litigation Funding, 2016).

Most professionals believe they can detect deception and sometimes ‘common sense’ prevails to reinforce this belief. However, counter-intuitive evidence occasionally emerges which illustrates this is often not the case. A recent study (Leach et al, 2016) examined the assumption that seeing a person’s face (uncovered) was necessary to detect deception. Observers’ performance (in the UK, Canada and the Netherlands) was better when witnesses wore facial covering (i.e. nijabs or hijabs) than when witnesses did not wear veils. These findings suggest that, contrary to judicial and public opinion, facial veils did not interfere with, and may improve, the ability to detect deception.

Research indicates that people vary in their ability to lie, but also, people are not consistently good at lie detection. Hence the dilemma! When people lie, they are typically uncomfortable if lying to close friends, but less so when talking to strangers. People lie to give a positive impression, obtain some sort of advantage, to evade penalties, and also to maintain the equanimity of a relationship, rather than ‘rock the boat’ (Rix, 2011). The social psychological research indicates there are different types of lies, liars and gender, age and personality trait differences between those who lie (Halligan et al 2003).

There are at least six distinct response styles of unreliability or dissimulation (Rogers, 1997). These include:
• Malingering
• Defensiveness
• Non-engaged irrelevant responsiveness
• Random responding
• Honest but factually incorrect
• Hybrid responding (combination of any of the above)

A key aspect of deception detection is the importance of assessing verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Non-verbal behaviour is more difficult to control than verbal behaviour (Vriz et al, 2016) with issues arising in emotional control (guilt, fear, excitement), context complexity (lying being a cognitively complex task), and behavioural control (unsuccessful attempts to suppress signs of lying). An example of some non-verbal behaviours evident at times during lying and deception is illustrated in Fig. I below (Vriz, 2000).

Fig I Examples of Non-Verbal Behaviour During Deception (Vriz, 2000)

Vocal Characteristics
1. Speech hesitations: use of words ‘ah’, ‘um’, ‘er’ and so on
2. Speech errors: word and/or sentence repetition, sentence change, sentence incompletions, slips of the tongue, and so on
3. Latency period: period of silence between question and answer

Facial Characteristics
1. Gaze: avoiding the face of the conversation partner
2. Blinking: blinking of the eyes

1. Self-manipulations: scratching the head
2. Shifting position: movements made to change the sitting position (usually accompanied by trunk and foot/leg movements)

Data concerning these characteristics show a conflicting pattern i.e. the presence of one or two specific characteristics is not a prima facie indication of lying. There is no clear, binary relationship between nonverbal characteristics and lying.

Lying is logically difficult. The more complicated a lie is the greater non-verbal characteristics and logical inconsistencies are evident.

The degree of motivation also affects lying success. People who are highly motivated to get away with their lies may behave differently to those who have less personal investment in the outcome of their lying. Hence different motivational effects are found in an offender group, on the one hand, e.g. evade or reduce sentence, accelerate release from custody, and mental-health or civil claimant groups, on the other (e.g. to gain treatment, empathy and compensation).

Ability to detect lies

The ability to detect differences between liars and non-liars is variable. There is no one, consistently successful, ‘cognitive heuristic’ which governs the detection of lying, and potential judgments about lying and liars is adversely affected by not taking individual differences in behaviour into account e.g. social anxiety. Characteristics of truth-tellers and of good liars include verbal and non-verbal behaviour that is congruent and believable.

Vriz et al (2016) defined a set of guidelines for the detection of deception via behavioural cues, some examples are illustrated in Fig. 2 below:

Fig 2
Deception via behavioural cues (Vriz, 2016)

1. Lies may only be detectable via non-verbal cues if the liar experiences fear, guilt or excitement, or if the lie is difficult to fabricate.
2. It is important to pay attention to mismatches between speech content and non-verbal behaviour, and to try to explain these mismatches.
3. Attention should be directed towards deviations from a person’s ‘normal’ or usual patterns of behaviour, if these are known. Each deviation may indicate that the person is lying.
4. The judgment of untruthfulness should only be made when all other possible explanations have been negated.
5. A person suspected of deception should be encouraged to talk. This is necessary to negate the alternative explanations of a person’s behaviour. Moreover, the more a liar talks, the more likely it is that they will finally give their lies away via verbal and/or non-verbal cues.
6. There are stereotypical ideas about cues to deception (such as gaze aversion, fidgeting, and so on), which research has shown to be unreliable indicators of deception. Not everyone will exhibit these cues during deception, and the presence of such cues may indicate deception, but does not do so in every case.

The empirical development of verbal techniques to measure the veracity of statements indicated that deceptive statements often included shorter, more implausible and non-self-references (due to lack of personal experience). This led to the most popular technique to date for assessing deception – the Statement Validity Assessment (Kohnken and Steller, 1988). This was developed primarily in a forensic setting (sexual offences; child abuse context) and consisted of a structured interview, a criteria-based context analysis of the contexts of a statement, and a set of validity-checking questions. The context criteria for analysing statements in clinical consideration of the several characteristics (Vriz, 2000) shown in Figure 3 below:
Fig 3
Some examples of content criteria for statement analysis
General characteristics
1. Logical structure
2. Unstructured production
3. Quantity of details
Specific contents
4. Contextual embedding
5. Descriptions of interactions
6. Reproduction of conversation
7. Unexpected complications during the incident
8. Unusual details
9. Superfluous details
10. Accounts of subjective mental state
Motivation-related contents
11. Spontaneous corrections
12. Admitting lack of memory
13. Raising doubts about one’s own testimony

Each of the above criteria may contribute to the assessment of veracity.
The validity-related checklist developed is shown below:

Fig 4
Examples of Validity Check-list
Psychological characteristics
1. Inappropriateness of language and knowledge
2. Inappropriateness of affect
3. Susceptibility to suggestion
4. Questionable motives to report
5. Questionable context of the original disclosure or report
6. Pressures to report falsely (e.g. avoid detection; obtain compensation)
Investigative questions
7. Inconsistency with the laws of nature
8. Inconsistency with other statements
9. Inconsistency with other evidence

The utilisation of statement validity assessment is accepted as evidence in both criminal and civil courts in several countries but is not without problems, namely frequency of false/negative classification, subjectivity (of evaluator), and lack of other confirmatory evidence.

It has been argued (Vriz et al, 2016) that memories of real experiences are likely to contain perceptual information (visual details, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensation), contextual information (e.g. when and where something occurred) and affective information (e.g. detail about how someone felt during the event). These memories are typically ‘clear, strong and vivid’. Untrue descriptions are typically more vague and less concrete. Studies have indicated that reality monitoring might be more useful for analysing adults’ statements than for studying children’s statement, and for analysing statements about recent rather than older events.
Psychometric Testing for deception.

Psychometric testing and measurement falls into two categories – general testing (e.g. MMPI, 16PF, SIMS), and forensic neuropsychological testing. The former has received a mixed press both in terms of its validity in detecting deception or lying and also in terms of its time efficiency.

Clinical neuropsychological testing has, conversely, received better reviews both in terms of identifying deception and malingering and perhaps, of greater utility, assessment of sub-optimal effort and motivation (Thompson, 2011) and has rightfully led to a higher degree of expectation in terms of forensic, clinical and courtroom knowledge, objectivity and utility (Richard, Geiger and Tussey, 2015).

There are several psychometric assessments which have been used as an aid to detect malingering: The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms (SIRS), and the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS) (See Halligan et al, 2003 for details). Studies have found that malingerers can “successfully” evade detection on measures using validity scales in 44% to 80% of occasions (Carmody and Crossman, 2005; Peace and Masliuk, 2011 – cited in Peace & Richards, 2014), hence the empirical ambivalence for using these instrument, both forensically and clinically.

A more recent psychometric innovation which has gained credence in the civil claimant context has been that of Interrogative Suggestibility (Frumkin, 2016). False confessions and inaccurate evidence can frequently be based on an individual’s over-suggestibility and intolerance of uncertainty, resulting in the giving of misleading and inaccurate information. This has been measured by Gudjonsson (2013) andfocuses on how likely a person is to change his response under pressure or interrogation. The applicability of suggestibility assessment as a factor in both criminal and personal injury civil cases is gaining credence.

Can professionals be trained to be good lie detectors?
Many individuals are capable of behaving unethically, being deceitful and committing fraud. This varies from habitual crime to one occasional fraudulent action. Fraud and deception impacts on all of us in terms of costs built into subsequent insurance. Hence proactive skills and awareness of how to detect deception continues to have a high priority in the work of forensic, judicial and clinical professionals.

Training in the use of content analysis and statement validity interviewing increases the effectiveness of reliability assessment and deception detection. Training in non-verbal behaviour identification is useful but it is a complex task to apply this in actual deception detection, due to the inconsistency of non-verbal indicators of deception in each and every liar. In addition to the key overriding primary skill of listening and establishing if the several, various communications from an individual are congruent and consistent with a potential ‘true story’, the professional attempting to catch a liar needs the following micro skills:
• A suspicious, challenging attitude
• A probing, repetitious, questioning attitude
• A withholding attitude (i.e. non-disclosure of what is already known)
• Well researched, background information prior to interview

To achieve this level of communication skill requires an awareness and confidence in the micro-skills of face-to-face communication and an ability to mentally accommodate different types of interpersonal cues or behaviour in the interviewee before reaching a conclusion about truthfulness. (Koch, 2016).

Several recognised psychological guidelines (in DSMV) have potential components of deception associated with them (e.g. sociopathy and other personality disorders, amnesia, substance abuse and PTSD). Four main detection strategies for feigned psychopathology include: identification of rare symptoms, indiscriminate symptom endorsement, obvious symptoms and improbable symptoms. (Rogers, 1997)

The clinician in a civil justice or mental health context must integrate an array of clinical findings on the issue of dissimulation. This includes assessing:
1. the strength and consistency of results across various measures and
2. the absence of alternative explanations (Rogers, 1997)

Legal and professional issues
The use of the term ‘malingering’ or ‘liar’ is a difficult and complex issue. Relevant professional/legal issues pertaining to this include: -
1. In what proportion of forensic and civil cases is the issue of dissimulation part of a clinician’s psycholegal conclusions?
2. Given the far-reaching consequences of forensic and medico-legal evaluations, are different clinical criteria needed to differentiate dissimulators from others?
3. What influences do descriptions of dissimulation within clinical reports have on legal disposition or clinical treatment.
4. In public policy terms, what errors (false positives or false negatives) is the criminal or civil justice system willing to tolerate with respect to malingering and defensiveness?
Experience and research with individuals in forensic contexts (Rogers, 1997), civil claimants and mental health patients (Koch, 2016) suggest that these are three types of continua on which to classify malingering and defensiveness. These are shown in Fig VI below with descriptions (Rogers, 1997):

Fig VI
A. Unreliability: Continuum of Reliable – Limited Reliability – Without Reliability
1. Self-report with limited reliability: The patient answers most inquiries with a fair degree of accuracy, but volunteers little or nothing and may distort or evade on circumscribed topics. 2. Self-report without reliability: The patient, through guardedness, exaggeration, or denial of symptoms, convinces the clinician that his or her responses are inaccurate. Such cases may be suspected of malingering or defensiveness, although the patient’s intent cannot be unequivocally established.
B. Malingering:
Continuum of Truthful – Mild Malingering – Moderate Malingering – Severe Malingering
1. Mild malingering: There is unequivocal evidence that the patient is attempting to malinger, primarily through exaggeration. The degree of distortion is minimal and plays only a minor role in differential diagnosis.
2. Moderate malingering: The patient, either through exaggeration or fabrication, attempts to present him- or herself as considerably more disturbed than this is the case. These distortions may be limited to either a few critical symptoms (e.g. the fabrication of hallucinations) or represent an array of lesser distortions.
3. Severe, malingering: The patient is extreme in his or her fabrication of symptoms to the point that the presentation is fantastic or preposterous.
C. Defensiveness
Continuum of Not Defensive – Mild Defensiveness – Moderate Defensiveness – Severe Defensiveness 1. Mild defensiveness: There is unequivocal evidence that the patient is attempting to minimize the severity but not the presence of his or her psychological problems. These distortions are minimal in degree and of secondary importance in establishing a differential diagnosis.
2. Moderate defensiveness: The patient minimizes or denies substantial psychological impairment. This defensiveness may be limited to either a few critical symptoms (e.g. paedophilic interest) or represent lesser distortions across an array of symptomatology.
3. Severe defensiveness: The patient denies the existence of any psychological problems or symptoms. This categorical denial includes common foibles and minor emotional difficulties that most healthy individuals have experienced and would acknowledge.

Evidential certainty in this crucial area of deception is a complex and multi-layered issue. It is one of the most challenging aspects of forensic, judicial and clinical findings about deceptions can be best seen on the continuum: Definite unsupportive.
Degree of certainty is and illustrated in Fig VII below.

Fig VII Degree of Certainty in Findings (Rogers, 1997; Koch, 2016)
Level of certainty - Unsupported
Clinical criteria
Non-significant or conflicting research findings.
Conclusions that are consistent with accepted theory and supported by one or two studies of limited generalizability.
Research studies consistently show statistical significance in the expected direction, but have little or no practical value in classifying individuals.
Research studies consistently establish statistical significance in which cutting score, measures of central tendency, or a similar statistic accurately differentiate between at least 75% of the criterion groups.
Accurate classification of 90% or more of individual person based on extensive, cross-validated research. Findings are congruent with accepted theory.

As a counterpoint to the concept of certainty in deception detection, the ‘unanticipated questions approach’ (Sooniste et al, 2016) indicates that liars and truth tellers differ in their ability to answer unexpected questions during an interview i.e. liars competence in answering unanticipated questions is impaired as they, unlike truth tellers cannot rely on simple recall or on prepared answers, and hence appear inconsistent, and lacking in valid detail. This fascinating research illustrates a new wave of detection research and practice characterised by asking questions strategically in order to elicit cues to deception and truth.

Practitioners and post graduate students in forensic and clinical psychology all need to be cognizant of the multi factorial nature and complexity of deception detection (Myklebust et al, 2016; Kane & Dvoskin, 2011). Initial identification of one or more characteristics mentioned above need to be followed up and backed up by further evidence before a reliable assessment of deceptiveness in one or more contexts can be substantiated. As has been stated, there is no one ‘holy grail’ predictor of deception. Instead, the experienced forensic or clinical practitioner builds up an impression of congruence or incongruence of many communications and uses this as the basis and justification for opinions on deception. The use of fabrication, exaggeration or malingering is typically a matter for the courts to decide but they require expert assistance. Continuing professional development in this area includes awareness of research and communication skills training in detection deception, using role play discussion and written statement analysis.

Understanding micro-expressions in verbal, non-verbal, and written communications is the key – analysing its subtlety in the challenge for the criminal and civil justice systems, and police and security services, as they increase confidence and competence in investigative interviewing (Westra and Powell, 2016).

Koch HCH (2016) Legal Mind: Contemporary Issues in Psychological Injury & Law. Expert Witness Publications, Manchester.

Oxburgh G, Myklebust T, Grant T and Milne R (2016) Communication in Investigative and Legal Contexts. Wiley. London.

A full list of references can be obtained from the first author.

The authors regularly provide medico-legal reporting clinics in Cheltenham and London (Hugh Koch), Cambridge, Luton, Peterborough and Newmarket, Coventry, Leicester and Rugby (Katie Newns, Tom Boyd and Jill Peters) and can all be contacted via www.hughkochassociates.co.uk.

I am grateful for helpful comments from Professor Michael Brookes, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry. Birmingham City University.

The Law Society is consulting with solicitors and other stakeholders in order to prepare its formal response when the Ministry of Justice consultation on the small claims limit for low value personal injury cases is launched.

We anticipate that the forthcoming consultation is likely to cover the following proposals which were outlined in the government's autumn statement:

❖ raising the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00
❖ removal of the right to general damages for minor soft tissue injuries.

The Law Society opposes anything other than an inflationary rise in the small claims limit for personal injury cases and outright rejects the proposal to remove general damages for minor soft tissue injuries.

Case studies will help us illustrate the important role that solicitors play in ensuring access to justice and the danger of creating a system whereby ordinary citizens are left to navigate alone as a litigant in person and, in some circumstances, are deprived of the full effect of the compensation they deserve.

The Law Society are particularly interested in the following cases:
❖ road traffic accident/employer's liability and public liability matters from £1,000.01 - £5,000.00 and up to £25,000.00 where liability is admitted
❖ road traffic accident/employer's liability and public liability matters from £1,000.01 - £5,000.00 and up to £25,000.00 where liability is in dispute.

The Law Society are calling on its members to assist them in gathering stories to illustrate the impact that the proposed changes could have on those seeking to bring a genuine action for injuries sustained through no fault of their own.

Case studies illustrating the issues faced by those behind the claim will help us raise awareness of the devastating blow that the proposals could have on ordinary citizens seeking to assert their legal rights, leaving potentially thousands of genuine claimants without legal advice, representation or proper recourse.

You should not feel obliged by this request to make any disclosure which you believe would breach any duty to your client. The Law Society very much appreciate your help in publicising concerns about these proposals.

Linda Monaci & Flora Wood examine the approach to applying malingering diagnostic criteria in cases involving head injury

The introduction of the concept of “fundamental dishonesty” to the defendant’s armoury in personal injury cases raises the stakes for litigants. If exposed, a claimant risks having their QOCS protection taken away or their entire claim struck out if the trial judge finds that they have been fundamentally dishonest in relation to “any aspect of the claim”. This article explores some of the methods used to identify malingering neurocognitive dysfunction (MND) to assist lawyers in deciding whether, perhaps, there are grounds to go as far as to plead fundamental dishonesty in the discrete area of brain injury.

Case law
The case law on the application and definition of fundamental dishonesty is still at a fledgling stage but was neatly summed up by Freedman J when considering CPR 44.16 in the case of Zurich Insurance v Bain (unreported, 4 June 2015): “What does fundamentally dishonest mean? It does not, in my judgment, cover situations where there is simply exaggeration or embellishment… Having said that, these cases are fact sensitive and there may be situations where if a claim is patently and obviously exaggerated, the sole purpose being to recover damages to which a claimant is not entitled, it may be that a judge concludes that that renders the claim fundamentally dishonest.

“Where I am quite satisfied fundamental dishonesty does arise is where it goes to the core of the claim. If the dishonesty is really at the root of the claim then it seems to me that the dishonesty can properly be categorised as being fundamental.

” Can neuropsychological assessment assist in establishing not just a simple exaggeration of the limits of cognitive function, but one which “patently and obviously” exaggerates the seriousness of the impact of the brain injury “so that it goes to the core of the claim?” An example might be a claim for significant past and future care costs (claimed as a result of an alleged inability to live independently due to short term memory or concentration problems) which is clearly discredited by medical experts.

Malingering is a common human behaviour; it is the fabrication of symptoms with the purpose of obtaining secondary gains, such as financial compensation or avoiding duties such as school or military service. Judges require clear unequivocal evidence to find fraud or dishonesty. Are we any nearer acknowledging an accepted criterion for malingering which will enable independent medical experts to conclude there is a significant probability that the claimant is malingering?
Assessing for symptom validity
Internationally it has been agreed that assessing for symptom validity, including effort, is nearly always necessary. There are also guidelines to help identify malingering in acquired brain injury and in chronic pain (eg Bianchini et al., 2005; Slick et al., 1999). Research has mainly focused on validating assessment tools and the main conceptual framework has considered malingering for the purpose of financial gain (eg Boone & Lu, 2003; Green, 2001; Heilbronner et al., 2009; Iverson & Binder, 2000).

It is important to ensure that the information collected during the neuropsychological assessment is valid. Furthermore, any indication that the data obtained is not valid (failed effort tests and/or significant elevation on symptom validity scales that suggest over-reporting and feigning) must be identified, as being either outright dissimulation or merely symptom magnification, which may not be intentional.

Several methods are offered in current literature to assess symptom validity (eg Bush et al., 2005; Reynolds 1998; Slick et al., 1999). Larrabee (2012) recently suggested the following terms should be used: performance validity (indicating effort) and symptom validity (referring to the validity of symptom report). Effort can be assessed with specific stand alone tests of effort (or embedded ones, but these are less sensitive). Self-report questionnaires can employ strategies, including monitoring the presence of symptom magnification, reporting of unlikely, too specific or absurd symptoms, unusual symptom combinations or positive symptom distortion. Administering independent tests of effort and other measures of symptom validity, such as questionnaires, increases the validity of assessment results (Bianchini et al., 2001) and provides non-redundant information regarding the examinee’s credibility (Mittenberg et al., 2002). Consistency of information is also important; for instance the information obtained during the interview, test results, observation, self-reported history and symptoms, documented history, third party accounts and known brain functioning.

Theory for diagnostic criteria
The DSM-IV (APA, 2000) considers malingering as a behaviour, not a mental disorder per se, therefore formal diagnostic criteria are lacking. The DSM-IV defines malingering as ‘‘the intentional production of false or grossly exaggerated physical or psychological symptoms, motivated by external incentives such as avoiding military duty, avoiding work, obtaining financial compensation, evading criminal prosecution, or obtaining drugs’’ (APA, 1994, p. 683). The DSV-V (APA, 2013) considers malingering under “non-adherence to medical treatment”. Its definition is very similar to the DSMIV, but although criteria are provided, malingering should be strongly suspected “if any combination of the following is noted: (i) Medico-legal context of presentation; (ii) Marked discrepancy between the individual’s claimed stress or disability and the objective findings and observations; (iii) Lack of cooperation during the diagnostic evaluation and in complying with the prescribed treatment regimen; or (iv) The presence of antisocial personality disorder.” Greiffenstein et al. (1994) proposed the following criteria for the diagnosis of “overt” malingering of memory dysfunction (in particular to be used in neuropsychological settings, for claimants presenting with post-concussive symptoms): (i) improbably poor performance on two or more neuropsychological measures; (ii) total disability in a major social role; (iii) contradiction between collateral sources and symptom history; and (v) remote memory loss.

Two studies (Greiffenstein et al., 1994; Greiffenstein, Gola, & Baker, 1995) demonstrated a significant link between classifications made according to these criteria and scores on tests of effort. This supports the notion that consistency between symptoms, test performance and behaviour (both during and after the assessment) are essential to help clarifying whether malingering is present.

However, others (Pankratz & Erickson, 1990) believe that the diagnosis of malingering should be made based on behavioural observations and that understanding whether the behaviour is intentional is irrelevant. They proposed the following criteria for malingering: (i) marked inconsistency between reported and observed symptoms; (ii) marked inconsistency between diagnosis and neuropsychological findings; (iii) resistance, avoidance, or bizarre responses on standardised tests; (iv) failure on specific measures of faking; (v) functional findings on medical examination; and (vi) late onset of cognitive complaints following accident. Others, such as Faust and Ackley (1998), however highlight the importance of volition and of providing false information (or withholding information) to make a determination of malingering. Iverson (1995) found that strategies used when attempting dissimulation included ‘‘poor cooperation, aggravation and frustration, slow response latencies and frequent hesitations, and general confusion during the testing process.” It is important to consider the entire clinical picture as while certain type of brain dysfunction and/or premorbid personality traits may make these behaviours more likely, these could also be consistent with malingering.

Slick et al (1999) proposed a relatively comprehensive system to guide the determination of malingering in the form of categories of possible, probable, and definite malingering of neurocognitive dysfunction (MND) for the purpose of material gains (eg financial compensation) or avoiding formal duty or responsibility (eg stand trial).

Diagnostic categories for MND
Definite MND

This is indicated by the presence of clear and compelling evidence of voluntary exaggeration or fabrication of cognitive dysfunction and the absence of plausible alternative explanations. The specific diagnostic criteria necessary for Definite MND are listed below:
i. Presence of a substantial external incentive.

ii. ii. Definite negative response bias (ie definite or probable negative response bias, discrepancy between test data and known patterns of brain functioning, discrepancy between test data and observed behaviour, reliable collateral reports, or documented background history).

iii. Behaviours meeting necessary criteria from (ii) that are not fully accounted for by psychiatric, neurological, or developmental factors.

Probable MND

This is indicated by the presence of evidence strongly suggesting voluntary exaggeration or fabrication of cognitive dysfunction and the absence of plausible alternative explanations. The specific diagnostic criteria necessary for probable MND are listed below:
i. Presence of a substantial external incentive.

ii. Two or more types of evidence from neuropsychological testing, excluding definite negative response bias (probable response bias, discrepancy between test data and known patterns of brain functioning, discrepancy between test data and observed behaviour, discrepancy between test data and reliable collateral reports, discrepancy between test data and documented background history) or one type of evidence from neuropsychological testing, excluding definite negative response bias, and one or more types of evidence from self-report (ie selfreported history is discrepant with documented history, self-reported symptoms are discrepant with known
patterns of brain functioning, selfreported symptoms are discrepant with behavioural observations, selfreported symptoms are discrepant with information obtained from collateral informants, evidence of exaggerated or fabricated psychological dysfunction).

iii. Behaviours meeting necessary criteria for neuropsychological testing and self-report are not fully accounted for by psychiatric, neurological, or developmental factors

Possible MND
This is indicated by the presence of evidence suggesting volitional exaggeration or fabrication of cognitive dysfunction and the absence of plausible alternative explanations. Alternatively, possible MND is indicated by the presence of criteria necessary for definite or probable MND except that other primary aetiologies cannot be ruled out. The specific diagnostic criteria for possible MND are listed below:
i. Presence of a substantial external incentive

ii. Evidence from self-report (ie selfreported history is discrepant with documented history, self-reported symptoms are discrepant with known patterns of brain functioning, selfreported symptoms are discrepant with behavioural observations, selfreported symptoms are discrepant with information obtained from collateral informants, evidence of exaggerated or fabricated psychological dysfunction).

iii. Behaviours meeting necessary criteria from (ii) are not fully accounted for by psychiatric, neurological, or developmental factors or criteria for definite or probable MND are met except for primary psychiatric, neurological, or developmental aetiologies cannot be ruled out. In such cases, the alternate aetiologies that cannot be ruled out should be specified.

Arguably, only the first two categories are likely to support an allegation of fundamental dishonesty.

The Slick criteria do not appear to be extensively used in the UK and perhaps the determination of malingering is seen as a finding of fact and as such outside the remit of a medico-legal expert. However, given the importance of ensuring no part of a personal injury claim is exaggerated, it appears even more important that clinical neuropsychologists always consider the validity of the data obtained during a medicolegal evaluation. In the vast majority of cases there will most likely be insufficient evidence to claim an exception to the QOCS rule or dismiss an entire claim under s 57, Compensators should apply a sensible level of caution in raising these issues, unless they are prepared to accept the significant costs consequences
if they fail.

Insurers and compensators will be keen to use fundamental dishonesty as a weapon against fraud. The recent case of Hughes, Kindon and Jones v KGM (unreported, 1 April 2016) at Taunton County Court(which resulted in a costs order against the claimants after their claims were dismissed for exaggerating the length of their recovery period) could be the start of a significant new battle to challenge a claimant’s honesty. Claimant solicitors are naturally concerned for their genuine clients and defendants must be able to justify their allegations or face costs penalties and bad publicity. Expert evidence will inevitably be a key factor and the Slick categories could provide a useful framework to assist judges in considering the merits of an allegation of malingering in brain injury cases.

It should not be forgotten that the obvious route to “success” for a defendant where malingering is strongly suspected (and supported by medical opinion) is to make a well timed and carefully calculated Pt 36 offer. In cases worth less than £25,000 defendants will not get indemnity costs, even if their offer is not beaten, but in the higher value cases a win on costs can be more significant that the final compensation award.

Dr Linda Monaci, Consultant clinical neuropsychologist
Flora Wood, Partner at Ashfords LLP

by Dr Gerry George Robins Consultant Gastroenterologist FRCP Lond, MD, MBBS

A healthy gastrointestinal system is something that many of us take for granted, and only when it goes wrong do we realise the impact on quality of life, family and employment. Gastrointestinal disease is traditionally something that we in the UK are not very good at talking about, yet in the UK gastrointestinal disease is the third most common cause of death, the leading cause of cancer death and the most common cause of hospital admission (gastrointestinal disease is estimated to be responsible for 1 in 6 admissions to hospital in the UK.

Clearly there are many different types of gastrointestinal disease, and in the field of medicolegal work, first thoughts often turn to abdominal and biliary surgery and its potential complications. However, in the non-surgical field of gastrointestinal disease (Gastroenterology) there is a significant burden of disease, often chronic, which can be overlooked. For example, the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is estimated to affect 10 to 25% of the general UK population (with the prevalence in women being between 2 to 4 times greater than in men) and about half of patients with IBS will present to their GP because of symptoms. There is very clear evidence that stress, both acute and chronic, will both precipitate and exacerbate IBS, although the mechanism is not fully understood. There have been numerous trials looking into putative mechanisms, and there is clear data showing that in individuals with IBS who experience stressful or anxiety inducing events, there are changes in the inflammatory profile of both the gut and central nervous system, changes in the endocrine profile of the affected individual (e.g. levels of hormones such as corticotropin and melatonin alter) and also in the bacteria that live within the gut, to name just a few possible mechanisms. Clearly it is entirely plausible that a different mechanism predominates in different individuals, and that there may be multiple mechanisms at work within the same individual. Prognosis in patients with IBS is variable, and compared to healthy controls, patients with IBS are often documented to have extra-abdominal symptoms (e.g. insomnia, sexual dysfunction, urinary symptoms and headache), significantly reduced quality of life, difficulty socialising, reduced participation in sport and travelling and increased absence from work, with a significantly reduced length of working life (with the associated financial implications consequent upon this).

From a medicolegal perspective these facts are important considerations in Claimants who have either developed IBS or had a worsening in their pre-existing IBS symptoms due to a significant life event. Significant life events often precipitate the need for a medicolegal opinion in their own right (e.g. road traffic accident, medical negligence, wrongful dismissal) but the effect on underlying pre-existing, or new, gastroenterological conditions is often overlooked by Claimant’s lawyers when considering all aspects of the case. In other circumstances Claimants who already suffer with IBS may not get the recognition they need from their employer with regards to making appropriate reasonable adjustments within the physical environments of their workplace, and the nature of the work expected to be undertaken. Often patients with IBS need only a relatively small change in work practice to allow them to continue to be productive members of the work team. Simple examples of changes employers could make include allowing the Claimant to come into work an hour or two later (patients with IBS often have worse symptoms first thing in the morning), allowing more working at home (so patients have ready access to their own toilet facilities) and minimising the need for long work-associated periods of travel. The assumption by employers and others that “it’s just IBS” and such patients are exaggerating the impact of their disease on their ability to work, completely underestimates the severity of symptoms that some patients with IBS can have - these symptoms need to be taken seriously.

As IBS is so prevalent another potential mishap is the misinterpretation by a medical practitioner of the development of new symptoms within a patient as heralding the onset of IBS, when in fact the development of new symptoms such as bloating, change in bowel habit, or non-specific abdominal pain is the manifestation of a significant organic disease such as bowel cancer, ovarian cancer or coeliac disease. Occasionally symptoms that should never be interpreted as IBS, are - with potentially significant consequences. Examples of such symptoms that at least initially should not be assumed to be due to IBS include nocturnal symptoms, weight loss, persistence of symptoms despite evacuation of stool, and rectal bleeding. There are very well defined criteria for diagnosing IBS (Rome III criteria) and IBS should always be a “positive” diagnosis and simply not a label given to a patient because their symptoms do not sound like another problem.

In addition to chronic diseases such as IBS, there are acute gastroenterological diseases, which may warrant consideration of a medicolegal opinion. One of the most common scenarios in this group is travel-associated gastroenteritis or traveller’s diarrhoea. In those travelling abroad, especially to countries with a low GDP, it is estimated between 20% and 60% will experience at least one episode of diarrhoea. Whilst usually a self-limiting illness, and rarely life-threatening traveller’s diarrhoea often affects enjoyment of holiday for both the individual affected and other family members and friends in their travelling group. For many families, holidays abroad represent an investment of a significant amount of their disposable income and notwithstanding the unpleasantness of the ongoing symptoms, the need to spend a significant period of time in one’s hotel room unable to participate in activities and/or relaxation is a source of frustration for many people in this circumstance. Often symptoms will continue for a period of time after return to the UK (1 in 20 patients will have symptoms lasting longer than 2 weeks), with Claimants having to miss time off work and reduced other activities for days to weeks afterwards. A causative organism for traveller’s diarrhoea is not identified in up to 70% of cases (as many cases are due to viruses such as norovirus, and many people often do not submit a stool sample), but in those cases where a pathogen is identified, E.Coli is the most common culprit. Destinations considered high risk for traveller’s diarrhoea include South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South East Asia. All inclusive holidays (including cruise ships) and backpacking are also known to increase the risk of developing traveller’s diarrhoea. Typically, episodes of traveller’s diarrhoea start during the first week of travel with most episodes lasting approximately 7 days. A few examples of warning signs for Claimants that hotels or cruise ships may be breaching their duty of care with regards to providing safe food and drink include continually reheating food, serving or handling uncooked food and cooked food together, not serving food at a correct temperature (either not hot enough or not chilled enough), staff handling food not wearing gloves, the presence of animals and insects around eating areas and serving drinks that are watered down or have ice in.

Whilst acute diarrhoeal illnesses are also common in the UK, they do predominate in settings with high levels of contact and potentially compromised hygiene, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks of infectious diarrhoea in hospitals. This is generally self- limiting and introduced from the community into the healthcare setting through infected patients, visitors and staff (often in the asymptomatic phase of the disease). Clostridium difficile however, whilst a component of the normal gut bacteria of between 3% to 10% of the adult population, is a bacteria that causes a diarrhoeal illness that is one of the most prevalent problems in UK hospitals. The incidence of Clostridium associate diarrhoea increased 4-fold between 1999 and 2004. Prolonged hospitalisation and repeated courses of antibiotics are significant risk factors for developing Clostridium difficile associate diarrhoea. This means it is more likely to be seen in people who are undergoing a complicated recovery from many medical and surgical problems – as by definition this group will very often have a prolonged stay in hospital and often need prolonged and repeated courses of antibiotics. Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea can evolve into a more severe form of pseudomembranous colits, which in turn can be life threatening and Clostridium difficile infection per se is associated with significant morbidity and
mortality. Again, in medicolegal cases, where the sum total of harm done to the Claimant is being considered, this is an aspect that can be overlooked as it is not always seen as being directly relevant to the complication that occurred.

In summary therefore, gastroenterological symptoms are common in the general population at large, and particularly in patients with other medical problems. Whilst many chronic gastroenterological conditions, such as IBS are often considered as trivial they frequently have a significant effect on quality of life and employment. Chronic gastroenterological symptoms can be a consequence of other significant trauma and life events, or by themselves can be an important factor in why Claimants are perceived as being unable to pursue certain careers and activities, even though there is no medical reason why this should be the case if certain, simple allowances are made. Certain environments which people expose themselves to on a regular basis, such as hotels, cruise ships, care homes and hospitals increase the risk of developing acute, infectious gastrointestinal symptoms and although often self limiting, again this can be a component of medicolegal cases which is not considered or opinion sought upon despite the profound effects it can have on Claimants.

Chris Deacon & Dr Linda Monaci provide a legal & medico-legal perspective of expert evidence in foreign applicable law cases

It is well over two years since the Court of Appeal gave judgment in Wall v Mutuelle de Poitiers [2014] EWCA Civ 138, [2014] 3 All ER 340, but questions remain as to the appropriate approach to obtaining expert evidence in English court proceedings for personal injury damages when a foreign applicable law applies under Article 4.1 of Rome II (Regulation (EC) No. 864/2007).
The decision in Wall v Mutuelle de Poitiers
Mr Wall sustained a serious spinal cord injury following a motorcycling accident in France. The parties could not agree on how expert evidence should be provided to the English court under Rome II. Mr Wall argued for the plethora of experts (10 in total) one would usually expect to see before the English courts in a claim for catastrophic injuries. Contrast this with the French insurer’s position: it was arguing that the case should be quantified with reference to the report of one expert alone in accordance with the French Procedural Code.

The Court of Appeal agreed with Mr Wall that the question of how expert evidence should be adduced is a question of “evidence and procedure” which falls to be assessed in accordance with the law of the forum under Article 15 of Rome II. So for a claim being pursued in the English courts, CPR Pt 35 would be relevant and Mr Wall would be entitled to rely on the evidence of a range of medical and non-medical experts to support his claim for damages.

The practical approach to obtaining evidence
In Wall the Court of Appeal said that “a narrow view of the law is inappropriate. If there are guidelines [relating to how damages are assessed under the foreign applicable law]…judges will tend to follow them”.

The practical implication of the Court of Appeal’s decision is that the experts instructed to deal with quantum related issues will need to have regard to wideranging provisions of the foreign applicable law and legal system to accurately determine the claimant’s entitlement to damages, which may include:
■ judicial guidance and conventions; and
■ tables, tariffs and scales.

In many European countries, including Italy, Spain and France, different tables are used to help quantify the percentage of permanent and temporary harm and that assessment is then used by the judge to determine the award of damages. For instance, in Italy for psychological and psychiatric symptoms the most widely used tables are published in the textbook by Buzza & Vanini.

A separate set of tables, tariffs and scales may then be used by the lawyers to allocate a financial value to the percentage impairment the medico-legal expert has assessed.

“Foreign” or “English” expert evidence?
When an “English” medical expert (with “English” being a reference to their medicolegal reporting experience rather than nationality) is instructed to consider a claimant’s level of disability and percentage incapacity under the rules of a foreign legal system there may be resistance from the expert, particularly if the case is pre-costs and case management conference (CCMC) and there is no court order requiring the experts to make that assessment. If the medico-legal expert is going to have to consider an array of “foreign” materials then the parties may be tempted to find a “foreign” expert who is familiar with the relevant provisions.

Whether the parties choose to instruct an “English” or a “foreign” medico-legal expert, in principle the assessment of the injury is likely to be very similar: the expert will consider the impact of pre-existing conditions, current functioning, impact on work, leisure, relationships and future prospects. However, there will be important differences depending on the expert’s background and culture. For instance in Italy, under the court rules, the medicolegal expert is not expressly required to deal with treatment recommendations and further health risks. The assessment in Italy is completed only when the claimant is as good as s/he is going to get which means the expert is not required to consider rehabilitation which it is assumed has already taken place. This approach does not sit easily with that encouraged in England where the rehabilitation code is central to the aims of the pre-action protocol. When obtaining evidence from an expert unfamiliar with Pt 35 of the CPR, the parties should ensure the expert has clear guidance on their duties as an independent expert to the English court and be confident that the expert would ultimately be able to give evidence in person in English proceedings if the case goes to trial.

Experts more accustomed to the rules of evidence in other jurisdictions must be carefully guided on the correct approach under the English CPR. For instance in Italy the experts instructed by the partiesare not called in court and are not cross-examined (and they are not required to be impartial); the expert instructed by the court in Italy should, however, be impartial and can be called to court to clarify verbally anything that is unclear, however, questions ar agreed in advance. In Italy the medicolegal doctor may use extracts from the reports of the other experts the parties have instructed, no single joint expert, no joint statement or “hot-tubbing” is available and if the legal teams do not come to an agreement, the case goes to court and a new court-appointed expert is called; the parties can also then instruct new experts. Experts from other jurisdictions should also be warned that their role is not to tell the court what the outcome should be in terms of damages. This is a particular risk when instructing foreign law experts to provide an opinion on how damages are assessed under a foreign applicable law and who may have a natural tendency to adopt the role of an advocate, contrary to para 2.2 of CPR Practice Direction 35.

The parties could instruct a medical expert who is a native speaker of the country in which the accident took place but who is familiar with preparing reports under CPR Pt 35. A native speaking expert may find it easier to become familiar with the tables used in that country when assigning a percentage of temporary and permanent disability based on the claimant’s symptomatology and history. This would ensure that the English rules of evidence are followed and potentially provide a costeffective route to securing the right evidence. Such experts undertaking medico-legal work are, however, few and far between.

Case management, costs budgeting & the appropriate order at CCMC
When a claimant is considering which expert evidence it should gather to support the claim, in the majority of cases questions of proportionality and costs are likely to be at the forefront of the decision making process. Under CPR, Pt 35.1, the court is required to restrict expert evidence to that which is reasonably required to resolve the proceedings.

When considering the appropriate case management directions in foreign applicable law cases, careful consideration needs to be given to the sequence in which expert evidence is obtained. Before asking the medico-legal experts to finalise their reports, the parties will need advice from a foreign law expert who can identify exactly which provisions the expert must have regard to when assessing the claimant’s level of accident-related disability.

The parties should ask the experts to make the assessment of the claimant’s injuries, including any percentage impairment under the foreign applicable law/guidelines, so that the court is not being asked at trial to determine issues which more properly fall to a medical expert but which provide the answer to how much damages the claimant should recover.

The case of Syred v PZU [2016] EWHC 254 (QB), [2016] All ER (D) 157 (Feb) illustrates the difficulties which can arise here. Polish law applied to Mr Syred’s claim for damages for serious head injuries following a road traffic accident in Poland. The English High Court had extensive written and oral evidence before it on the approach to assessing general damages for pain and suffering under Polish law. The lower courts in Poland regularly had regard to an ordinance of the minister of labour and social policy when assessing general damages, even though the practice had been criticised by the Polish Supreme Court. The ordinance requires medical experts to assess the extent of the claimant’s incapacity. The medical experts in Mr Syred’s case had not done so and the parties invited the judge to make that assessment. He was prepared to assess damages with reference to the ordinance, even though this practice had been criticised by the Polish Supreme Court; the English judge held that it was part of the lawful practice of the Polish civil courts when assessing general damages for personal injury and he was therefore entitled to follow that approach.

At CCMC, the Master or District Judge may want to give clear guidance on the approach the experts should take, specifically ordering the experts to deal with placing the claimant under the tariffs or scaleswhich form part of the binding or non-binding provisions of the foreign applicable law or directing the expert to assess the claimant’s level of disability or incapacity under those provisions. The Master or District Judge may include specific questions in the case management order for the experts to consider so as to assist the court when assessing damages, thereby minimising the risk of the judge having to make an assessment at trial which morereadily falls to the medico-legal experts in the case.

It is easy to see how the costs involved in obtaining expert evidence to support a claim using the benchmark guidance from the Court of Appeal in Wall can become a costly exercise. This is, however, an inevitable consequence of the harmonisation introduced by Rome II. Translation of foreign law evidence and the guidelines the experts need to use could quickly run into thousands of pounds. The approach the English courts may require experts to take will also lengthen the time taken in preparing reports and then in joint discussions as the experts strive to agree any joint statements, particularly given the potential for divergence between experts (even on the same side) when placing the claimant’s level of incapacity/ disability using the “foreign” criteria. Those additional costs need to be factored into each side’s Precedent H and the parties will need to be ready to provide a justification for the budgeted costs going above what might be considered the norm in any comparable domestic case where issues of foreign law do not arise.

Concluding thoughts
Those representing claimants will need to be pragmatic in their approach, building a bank of precedent documents, establishing close links with lawyers in other jurisdictions and, crucially, providing clear guidance when instructing experts to ensure claimants injured in accidents abroad are not prejudiced by both the substance and procedural application of a foreign applicable law, while at the same time managing the costs of the case proportionately. Of course, depending on the substance of Brexit negotiations following the outcome of the Referendum, in years to come the complications of assessing personal injury damages under a foreign applicable law may fall away and we may see a return to the pre-Rome II position where the assessment of damages falls to the law of the forum.

This article first appearred in the New Law Journal on the1st July 2016
Chris Deacon,
Associate, aviation & travel department, Stewarts Law
Dr Linda Monaci
Consultant clinical neuropsychologist

by Dr Hugh Koch, Chartered Psychologist and Director, Hugh Koch Associates LLP Katie Newns, Chartered Psychologist, Hugh Koch Associates LLP Richard Cosway, Chartered Psychologist, Hugh Koch Associates LLP

by John Owen, ArroGen Forensics Ltd

The Forensic Marketplace, and the way that forensic science is commissioned and delivered, has changed significantly over recent years.

Most outsourced forensic work is now procured via a competitive tendering process, which until recently, has been managed under the National Forensic Framework. Tenders under the Framework have been product based, with police forces commissioning a series of defined tests at known cost from the Forensic Science Providers (FSP). This has been accompanied by a move away from a collaborative culture, where the police investigator and forensic scientist agree the strategy, to a culture where the police set the strategy and authorise the tests to be carried out.

With ever-increasing pressure on budgets, users of forensic science - typically the police, must be selective in their forensic submissions. For example, rather than submit a full set of clothing, targeted items may be selected, or clothing may be first screened in their own laboratory and samples recovered from them and submitted to the FSP for more detailed analysis. By geographically separating item examination from the context of others or when examining samples in isolation, this removes the opportunity to examine the distribution of material holistically and important information such as could be gleaned from analysis of the overall blood pattern, for example, is lost.

The majority of the outcomes of forensic testing are now reported in a staged way and at “source level”. Source level propositions address the question: “who
might the DNA have come from?” which, in some cases, will be highly relevant. Source level reports however do not address “activity level” questions, such as “(given the match), how did the DNA get there?” The answers to activity level questions are usually of paramount importance to the court. So, in the absence of a full interpretation of the findings, activity level questions such as: how the DNA was transferred, when it might have been transferred and what body fluid it was associated with are often not addressed. By extension, the scientific findings have not been considered in the context of the case circumstances, that is, in light of the prosecution and the defence scenarios. When the scientific findings are evaluated in a limited framework, the significance of the results can be misconstrued and the findings overall could potentially mislead.

Forensic work is now routinely reported in the form of a Streamlined Forensic Report (SFR) rather than a Full Evidential Statement. SFRs are designed to make the evidence available at the earliest opportunity in order that the defendant can either accept or challenge the evidence, but they are not intended for use at trial. The SFR typically provides no detail of how the findings have been arrived at or the conditions under which the tests were commissioned. Individuals who are not scientific experts can also produce them; for example, a DNA match report could have been generated and reported automatically as part of an administration process. Furthermore, the test results may not have been generated using accredited procedures. In combination, this can mean that it may not be easy for the Defence to establish whether the evidence is robust or identify if they should challenge it. Our advice is that SFRs should be challenged in order to be able to fully understand the science behind them and robustly assess its significance in the context of your case.

The police are now carrying out much forensic work themselves and the recent Government Strategy1 on Forensic Science appears to re-enforce this position. The Forensic Science Regulator has set a timetable2 in which the work of all providers of forensic science should be accredited to ISO 17025 (or ISO 17020 for some types of work). However, not all work will be required to be accredited. For example, the Forensic Science Regulator has stipulated that “simple” classification of firearms, most of which is carried out by Force Armourers, does not need to be accredited and it is only if their SFR is challenged that the work will need to be repeated by an accredited organisation. The questions are whether systems sitting outside the accredited framework will operate at a quality that is expected under accreditation and how they know what is expected, and, if not, how will the work be regulated? Equally if good robust systems can operate outside of accreditation, will this undermine the use and value of it?

Given the current situation, understanding the value of an independent assessment of the evidence is paramount. A knowledgeable independent expert will look at the forensic strategy to ensure that all of the appropriate examinations have been carried out and, if relevant, can suggest additional examinations that have the potential to provide valuable informa-tion. They will evaluate the significance of the scientific findings in the context of the case, ensuring that the defendant’s account of events is fully considered. They will also have the necessary expertise to robustly challenge the findings. For example, in a body fluid case, they will be able to consider the evaluation of complex DNA mixtures, consider more specialist DNA tests and, if necessary, carry out a specialist statistical analysis of the results. They will also look at the chain of evidence to ensure that, for example, anti-contamination procedures have been robustly employed and that the conclusions reached are valid.

The way in which forensic science is delivered has changed dramatically and the changes will continue to impact significantly on all those involved in the criminal justice system (CJS). An understanding of the significance of this transformation may help users of the CJS, not least the Defence, in assessing the scientific evidence before them and perhaps knowing when they may need the help of an expert in evaluating its true meaning.


1.The Home Office. 2016. Forensic Science Strategy: A national approach to forensic science delivery in the criminal justice system. Available at: www.gov.uk/ government/publications

2.Forensic Science Regulator. 2016. Codes of Practice and Conduct for forensic science providers and practitioners in the Criminal Justice System. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/forensicscience-regulator

Problems in expert evidence going beyond the rules. By Alec Samuels

by Emma Wilson - Prometheus Forensic Services

University of Leicester project to empower victims and support prosecutions in cases of sexual violence in conflict zones

Researchers from the University of Leicester have launched a new project to investigate alternative ways of collecting DNA evidence from victims of sexual violence in conflict zones and displaced communities, including refugee camps.

The project, which is led by Dr Lisa Smith from the University of Leicester’s Department of Criminology, will explore new methods for collecting forensic DNA
evidence in cases of sexual violence for use in regions where victims do not have access to medical facilities in order to provide victims with access to justice that may otherwise be unavailable.

The research is being launched before representatives from the UN and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at the UN’s HeForShe’s First-Ever #GetFree Tour at the University of Leicester on Tuesday 29 September.

Dr Smith explained: “In regions experiencing armed conflict, it is well documented that sexual violence is used strategically by armed groups against communities, families, and individuals. Although the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war is prohibited by international criminal law, these cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute, often because of a lack of available evidence. Forensic examinations of victims are often not carried out due to a lack of access to medical facilities, lack of trained medical and police professionals, and safety and security concerns.

“I hope that this sort of research will help to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence against vulnerable people in circumstances such as armed conflict and displaced communities, and encourage international organisations to seek innovative ways to use forensic science to give victims of sexual violence access to justice around the world.”

The first phase of the project, which is supported by the University Prospects Fund, involves researchers from the University of Leicester’s Departments of Criminology and Genetics collaborating with Thermo Fisher Scientific to test a variety of alternative DNA recovery techniques in order to determine their suitability for use on the ground in challenging circumstances, in order to overcome technical and cultural barriers which currently exist in remote regions.

The team will also be bidding for a large research grant in early 2016 which will enable them to conduct research ‘on the ground’ in various affecte regions worldwide.

The project will be highlighted amongst other Leicester research at the UN HeForShe event. Leicester has been chosen by the United Nations as an IMPACT champion to identify and test gender equality initiatives for the UN Women’s HeForShe 10x10x10 international campaign to get a billion boys and men involved in championing the rights of women. Ten university leaders worldwide – including Professor Paul Boyle, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester - will join 10 world leaders and 10 company chief executives to spearhead the campaign with game-changing action for gender equality.

Dr Smith said: “The HeForShe campaign aims to achieve gender equality, and sexual violence is just one of the ways that women, men, and children are
victimised around the world. The HeForShe campaign is led by UN Women, and part of their remit is the aim to end sexual violence against women and work towards peace and security for women and girls worldwide. This research project hopes to use forensic science to offer justice to victims of sexual violence and support the prosecutions of perpetrators around the world.”

The project will also examine wider areas in parallel to the DNA-related research, including aspects related to the interviewing of victims and witnesses. The interviewing of victims and witnesses is a crucial part of the investigation of sexual violence in these regions, but there is currently a lack of research on issues relating to interview practices in these regions, for example, how the use of language interpreters influences the interview setting.

Professor Mark Jobling from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics added: “The technology for DNA testing is powerful and robust, and in the UK, where we have a functional criminal justice system, we’re accustomed to its routine use supporting convictions for rape. We aim to be smart about how we apply it, so we can also make a real difference in the more dangerous and chaotic situations that exist in conflict zones.”

by Sue Carney, ConsultantForensic Scientist, Ethos Forensics

I will never forget the time a Solicitor said to me: "It's fingerprint evidence, of course we always accept it!". He had obviously never heard of Andrew Chiory or Shirley McKie or Brandon Mayfield (the list could go on!) … have you? 

We have learnt that it is vital for any evidence served to be examined. An Expert's duty is to the Court, to assist the Court with evidence within their expertise and be unbiased with the evidence they give. So, should we find we agree with another Expert, we will say so. However, we often find important facts have been ignored and have even found evidence to be completely wrong. We are not afraid to say that either!

• CCTV Evidence

What better evidence could you get than being able to see the offence happening and the person responsible? However, we are finding more frequently that the purported identifications of people from CCTV recordings are not as definitive as often alleged, and in some cases have been incorrect.

In one case in which the Defendant had been charged with a robbery on a bus, the Crown served a Police Officer's statement in which he identified the Offender seen in the CCTV footage as being the Defendant. Our Expert examined the original recording, found it to be of good quality and conducted a 'facial mapping' comparison between images of the Offender and photographs of the Defendant. Our Expert found that he could exclude the Defendant from being the Offender and the case was dropped.

In addition, it may not actually be possible to see specific actions take place, for example did a kick connect or multiple punches land on their target? CCTV footage is regularly 'over-interpreted' by those influenced by other information. Time-lapse video means that only a few images are recorded each second, for example only 6 images may have been recorded compared to 50 separate images per second for normal smooth motion. What is captured by those 6 images is chance and anything that happened in between is simply not recorded.

Furthermore, 'digital' does not necessarily mean better quality! Recordings are often compressed to help increase storage capacity, which usually reduces quality and can result in a 'blocky' image, obscuring fine detail and distorting shapes It can prove vital to have a report by an Expert who understands the limitations of CCTV recordings and states what can really be seen, so that the jury are not mislead.

• DNA Evidence

DNA is a chemical that is present in almost all of our body cells. It is the genetic material that governs the way we develop and determines our physical characteristics. We inherit half our DNA from our mother and half from our father.

For 14 years the 'SGM Plus' system was used by forensic laboratories for DNA testing. That method looked at 10 areas (or 'loci') on the DNA strand, plus the gender of the individual. At each of these loci there exist two lots of information (known as 'alleles' or 'components'), one inherited from each parent, meaning that a full SGM Plus DNA profile comprises 20 DNA components (i.e. 10 pairs), and an individual's gender identifier.

However, as more and more DNA profiles were added to the National DNA database, concern grew about the risk of finding two unrelated people with the same SGM Plus DNA profile. A new generation of DNA testing methods is therefore now in use that are known collectively as 'DNA17'. These more discriminating tests look at 16 areas on the DNA strand, plus a person's gender, meaning that a full 'DNA17' profile consists of 32 DNA components (i.e. 16 pairs) and gender, rather than the 20 components in an 'SGM Plus' profile.

We have therefore found ourselves in a crossover period, where there are thousands of DNA reference profiles from people on the National DNA Database that were produced using the SGM Plus method, whereas samples from crimes are now tested using a DNA17 system. This means that when a database 'hit' is obtained, the information from only a maximum of 10 loci (i.e. 20 components), plus gender, on a person's DNA profile is likely to have been matched to the DNA profile from the crime, from which there is potentially information from 16 loci (i.e. 32 components), plus the gender, available for comparison. There are therefore a potential 12 components from the crime sample that have not been compared with the person's DNA.

What if any of those 12 alleles do not match and the Defendant can be excluded from being the Offender?

It is therefore imperative that any DNA matches produced as a result of a DNA Database 'hit' are examined and, should it be found that the samples were profiled using systems that each look at a different number of loci on the DNA strand, new testing should be conducted using suitable methods to ensure all available evidence is considered.

Current DNA testing methods are also extremely sensitive and are able to obtain DNA profiles from tiny samples. It should always be borne in mind that whilst a full DNA profile may have been produced from a crime sample, the substance from which the profile was obtained may have been so small as to be invisible to the naked eye. For example, the 'DNA17' methods are thought to be able to produce a DNA profile from less than 10 skin cells, and it is estimated that a person sheds about 400,000 such cells a day! Methods of indirect deposition and secondary, and even tertiary, DNA transfer should not be forgotten!

Reporting methods have also evolved, with 'Streamlined Forensic Reports' (SFRs) often favoured by Police, especially when the evidence has been found as a result of a Database Hit. However, our Experts have discovered on several occasions that evidence produced in DNA SFRs has been wrong – alleged DNA matches with a supporting match probability have subsequently been found to actually be mixtures of DNA that are unsuitable for statistical evaluation!

• Crime Scene Examination and DNA Evidence

Quite often one type of evidence can have an impact on another. We were instructed in a case in which DNA obtained at a burglary scene was found to match the Defendant. The DNA had been swabbed from lip prints on the outside of a window that had been found by the Crime Scene Examiner when they powdered the crime scene looking for fingerprint evidence.

However, in an unusual set of circumstances, the Defendant had also been burgled and the same Police Crime Scene Examiner had attended the Defendant’s home to conduct an examination prior to attending the other burglary scene later that same day, and thus the question of contamination arose and our Crime Scene Examiner reviewed the evidence.

Based on information and questions raised by our Expert, the Crown’s Examiner admitted to Defence Counsel in a conference held at Court that he may have used the same fingerprint brush and powder at both crime scenes, and, because of research our Expert was aware of regarding the contamination of fingerprint brushes and powder with DNA, the Crown’s DNA Scientist confirmed that DNA could have been transferred via the fingerprint brush from the Defendant’s home to the other burglary scene. As a result, as the trial was about to start the Crown offered no evidence.

• Drugs Evidence

Police Forces have to take a practical view of forensic testing, especially with so many budget constraints. However, that can have a disastrous effect on evidence served.

In one case the Defendant had been charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply and faced a 3 year prison sentence if convicted. The Police had
seized over 2kg of a bulky vegetable material that they suspected to be drugs, but in order to save costs they only submitted two very small samples of the
material for forensic testing, claiming they were representative samples of the whole seizure. Their forensic service provider reported that the samples were "cannabis, including leaf material and some flowering top material" and the Police subsequently valued the entire seized material at £20,000, based on it being marketable cannabis that could have been sold on the street in 2000 'deals' at £10 each.

However, the Defendant was adamant that the cannabis was "rubbish" and his Solicitor asked our Expert to examine the material that had been seized. He found that it was nearly all cannabis plant stalk and leaf with only tiny fragments of (the potent) flowering tops present, and many clay pebbles (plant growing material) mixed with it. The Police samples had in fact been unrepresentative of the bulk material which was unmarketable and in our Expert's opinion, discarded waste material from a cannabis factory (where the marketable flowering tops had been separated out).

Our Expert's report resulted in the Police agreeing with his evidence and the Defendant receiving a £150 fine for cannabis possession, instead of a jail term for
possession with intent to supply a significant quantity of cannabis.

• Fingerprint Evidence

Fingerprints are still the only accepted unique method of identification (even identical twins have different fingerprints) and such evidence is retrieved in many cases, for example the Metropolitan Police find and retrieve finger/palm marks from approximately a fifth of all crime scenes attended by their Crime Scene Examiners. However, Police Forces have their set ways in producing their evidence (especially with the introduction of 'Streamlined Forensic Reports') and very limited information is readily given.

Our fingerprint expert was asked to examine the evidence produced by the Police in relation to the armed robbery of a jewellers shop. Latex gloves had been left at the scene, which were retrieved by the Police and subjected to a fingerprint examination. A finger mark made by the Defendant was said by the Police to have been found on the inside of one of the gloves. The Defendant had a legitimate reason for touching the outside of the latex gloves but not for wearing them.

Our Expert advised Counsel that there was no proof in the evidence served by the Crown that the mark was definitely found on the inside of the glove, particularly as latex gloves are often removed in a manner that causes them to be turned inside out. On cross examination the Police could not confirm if the mark was found on the inside or outside of the glove and the Defendant was found not guilty.

It is therefore not always about whether or not the finger (or palm) mark identification is correct, there are often many other important factors that can be brought to light.

• Toxicology

Toxicology evidence can arise in many different cases, including driving related matters, assaults, sex offences and murders, and can be thought of as difficult to dispute. Techniques used to analyse blood and urine samples are specific enough that there are rarely incidences where false positive results are obtained.

It is, however, important to view the results alongside all evidence in the case. Morphine is, for example, commonly used as a pain killer and if someone has been injured morphine may have been administered to them after an incident occurred. Its presence in the blood may not therefore show that an individual was under the effect of the drug at the time of the offence.

It is also important to consider the interaction that may take place between different drugs, which can result in an enhanced effect. Individual concentrations of each drug may not themselves cause significant effects, but if a number of drugs with similar effects are taken in combination, or if drugs are taken with alcohol, this may increase their effect on an individual. The medical history of a person can also prove important when interpreting toxicological findings as certain medical conditions can alter how an individual responds to a drug.

Drugs can also undergo post mortem re-distribution, so in the case of fatalities, the level detected after death may not be representative of the level in the blood at the time of death. Interpretation of post mortem levels therefore needs to take into account the time between death and sampling, the preservatives used and the temperature at which samples have been stored. Comparison of levels in different tissue samples, such as blood, stomach contents and vitreous humour can assist with assessing the extent of post mortem re-distribution that has taken place.

An examination of toxicology evidence can therefore be of paramount importance to many cases, as it may explain an individual's behaviour and reactions to
circumstances they faced, or actually show they were not under the effect of a drug at the time of the incident.

Instructing Experts

In the interests of justice, instructing an independent expert to examine evidence is vital. Evidence might not be as absolute as it seems, only limited information may have been disclosed in a report or the evidence could even be wrong. Forensic evidence should be fairly presented, to enable the Court to consider all relevant information and ensure they are not mislead by incomplete, or even incorrect, evidence. 

Mrs. Nikki Smith MCSFS
Director, Case Manager & Fingerprint Expert
BioMark Forensics Ltd.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.forensic-science.uk.net
© BioMark Forensics Ltd. 2016