Expert witness work
Expert witness services
We offer Expert Witness Services in all dyslexia, specific learning difficulties and ‘hidden’ disability related cases.
We are able to:
- Act as expert witnesses in employment tribunals or other cases in which a dyslexic person is involved as either plaintiff or defendant.
- Conduct expert assessments responding to instructions & produce reports for legal proceedings.
- Give guidance to employers and legal professionals on accommodations and reasonable adjustments.
- Advise those with dyslexia and related SpLDs on their legal rights.
- Advise legal professionals on guidelines for accommodations which should be made for dyslexic people in court, as specified in the Judge’s Equal Treatment Bench Book.
- Coach dyslexic people who will be appearing in court, either as plaintiffs, defendants or witnesses.
- Provide dyslexic people with support in various ways as they move through legal proceedings. This might include accompanying dyslexic people to meetings and court hearings, providing support with reading court documents.
Three Useful Resources:
Coping with Courts & Tribunals: A Guide for People with Specific Learning Differences
Second Edition by Melanie Jameson, Dyslexia Consultancy Malvern
Dyslexia Assessment & Consultancy is delighted to support this publication dedicated to Mary Colley’s work (1952 – 2010) along with Key For Learning Ltd.
This Guide is for people with Specific Learning Differences who face Court or Tribunal hearings, and for those who help and support them. Police custody and jury service are also covered. There is a different publication for professionals working in the justice system: The Good Practice Guide for Justice Professionals: Guidelines for supporting users of the Justice System who have Dyslexia and other SpLDs.
The Guide is available as a downloadable PDF file: Coping with Courts & Tribunals 2nd Edition
From the Introduction:
“This revised edition has drawn on meetings with the President of the Employment Tribunal, senior staff from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and colleagues who support adults with Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs). Chapters have been sent out for consultation to the police, an international expert on Restorative Justice, lawyers and SpLD advocates. Court users have fed in their experiences. On checking details of sources of support, I have found many have disappeared since 2011.
People without SpLDs find dealings with court or tribunal processes very stressful. It is no wonder, then, that the additional experience of living with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia,
Attention Deficit Disorder,or Dyscalculia makes the situation even harder to cope with. Difficulties on the autistic spectrum, such as Asperger Syndrome, present particular
It has been noted that the skills that seem to be required in hearings are just those that people with SpLDs often lack, namely:
- good information processing skills, i.e. absorbing, considering and responding to spoken information ‘on the spot’
- a reliable memory
- sustained concentration and well-developed listening skills
- the ability to respond appropriately to questions and to speak clearly
- the ability to digest documentation and to fill out complex forms
People with SpLDs need to know how to access support in legal processes, what their entitlements are, and how disability legislation can help accommodate their difficulties.
However this information is not always easy to come by, hence the need for this Guide.”
Good Practice Guide for Justice Professionals. Guidelines for supporting users of the Justice System who have Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties
by Melanie Jameson & the British Dyslexia Association. Revised 2013.
This Guide presents the challenges arising out of Specific Learning Difficulties in justice settings and outlines good practice in accommodating them. There is an emphasis on interview situations such as court, tribunal or parole hearings and police custody.
The Guide is available as a downloadable PDF file: Good Practice Guide for Justice Professionals
Disabilities and the Equal Treatment Bench Book
The Equal Treatment Bench Book, produced for the judiciary, has been updated to include guidance on specific learning difficulties. The guidance is intended to help judges recognise such difficulties, identify their implications in a court setting and understand what should be done to compensate for areas of disadvantage without prejudicing other parties. The guidance is found within the section on mental disabilities, specific learning difficulties and mental capacity. See pages 7–10, sections 40–56.
‘Specific Learning Difficulties’, SpLDs, is generally used as an umbrella term to cover dyslexia, dyspraxia/ developmental co‐ordination disorder, dyscalculia and ADHD – attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.
Downloadable PDF File: Equal Treatment Bench Book -Mental disability & SpLDS
Implications for the courts
Court hearings make heavy demands on language skills – both receptive and expressive – and require an ability to process information reasonably quickly and efficiently. Reliable memory, sequencing abilities and concentration are also necessary. All these areas fall within the profiles associated with Specific Learning Difficulties.
The following quotation is taken from this section.
The impact of specific learning difficulties in a court setting
The following problem areas have been reported by people with Specific Learning Difficulties who have experience of court or tribunal proceedings:
- a build up of stress, due to long delays at the hearing
- impossibility of following the cut and thrust of court exchanges
- failure to grasp nuances, allusions and metaphorical language
- difficulties giving accurate answers relating to dates, times or place names
- problems providing consistent information on sequences of actions
- inability to find the place in a mass of documentation, as directed
- impossibility of assimilating any new documentation at short notice
- coping with a room full of strangers in unfamiliar settings
- maintaining concentration and focus, mental overload
- feelings of panic, resulting in the urge to provide any answer in order to get the proceedings over with as quickly as possible
- anxiety that use of inappropriate tone may create a misleading impression
- an experience of sensory overload from the lights, bustle and distractions – this is a major factor for people with Asperger Syndrome.
People with SpLDs will be concerned about how their behaviour might be perceived: inconsistencies could imply untruthfulness; failure to grasp the point of a question could come across as evasive; lack of eye contact could be misinterpreted as being ‘shifty’ and an over‐loud voice might be regarded as aggressive. The overriding worry is that a loss of credibility occurs when they do not ‘perform’ as expected.Communication skills are often poor in people with SpLDs. They may miss the point, go off on a tangent, appear garrulous and imprecise or find that words fail them altogether so that they are unable to proceed. Despite their efforts they may only respond to the last part of a question or may unintentionally mislead the court through incorrect word usage.