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Book Review Clinical and legal disciplines: Two sides of the medico-legal coin

Special Reports

Phillip and Elizabeth Taylor review ‘Legal Mind - Contemporary Issues in Psychological Injury and Law’ by Hugh Koch

As the role of the expert witness is to provide evidence on which the court and the legal team can rely, it is the responsibility of said expert to acquire an understanding of the workings of the court (of course) and ideally, of the ‘legal mind.’

The title of this new publication from Expert Witness Publishing is therefore significant, although some lawyers have referred to it as ‘confusing’. What they may well mean is that the term may be interpreted, or construed in a number of ways – and all the better for that.

As the author Hugh Koch will remind you, ‘lawyers, barristers and judges’ have in his words, “a different language or approach, based on law, logic, clarity of opinion, legal precedent, adding that ‘clinical’ and ‘legal’ disciplines are ‘two sides of the medico-legal coin’” adding in effect that traversing the concepts and practices between the two is “essential in this civil justice concept of personal injury case management.”

Author Hugh Koch, a chartered clinical psychologist, brings a considerable amount of experience and expertise to the production of this book, having worked as a psychologist with the NHS and subsequently, for example, in mental health services in Somerset and in medical services in Cheltenham, prior to setting up his unique medico-legal consultancy which is certainly worthy of note. Based in Cheltenham, it consists of forty psychologists and one orthopaedic surgeon, tasked variously with supplying the courts (in 105 towns and cities across the UK) with orthopaedic and psychological reports.

Small wonder that Hugh Koch does a most creditable job of guiding the reader through the often-intricate dynamics inherent in the inter-connection in courts of law, between the expert witness, the legal team and the judges. The almost certain result is that the reader derives an extra helping of self-confidence in court, which even for the experienced expert witness, can be on some occasions, rather daunting.

Fortunately for the busy reader, the book is logically organised in seven sections starting with ‘psychology and the law’ and moving on to evidential certainty, followed by three sections on the matter – and necessity – of understanding the experts, the lawyers and the author himself. There is a very useful chapter on understanding psychological injury, focusing on diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and most importantly, translating clinical opinion into quantum.

This then is a book that can and does provide the expert witnesses with a formidable armoury of insight and information with which to arm themselves in court.

We are not sure if this is the first time the ‘legal mind’ or mind-set has been analysed, examined and explored by a psychologist. But, whether or not this is the case, the book presents us with an intriguing and enlightening read for psychologists, expert witnesses and lawyers alike, as well as other interested readers. Indeed, for expert witnesses in personal injury cases, the practical advice contained in this book makes it a worthwhile acquisition for the professional library.

LEGAL MIND

Contemporary Issues in

Psychological Injury and Law by Hugh Koch

ISBN: 978 1 90215 117 5

Available from Expert Witness for £18.00 including P & P.

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