Duties of all witnesses

3. Doctors play an important role in the justice system by contributing evidence both as expert witnesses and as witnesses of fact.

4. Whether you are acting as a witness of fact or an expert witness, you have a duty to the court2 and this overrides any obligation to the person who is instructing or paying you.3 This means you have a duty to act independently and to be honest, trustworthy, objective and impartial. You must not allow your views4 about a person to affect the evidence or advice you give.

5. You must understand your role as a witness throughout the court process. You must cooperate with case management, making sure you meet the timescales for producing reports and going to conferences, meetings or court hearings.

6. You must make sure that any report you write, or evidence you give, is accurate and not misleading. This means you must take reasonable steps to check the accuracy of any information you give, and to make sure that you include all relevant information.

7. People who do not have a medical background may rely on your advice and evidence to help them make decisions. Where it is possible to do so without misleading anyone, you should use language and terminology that people who are not medically qualified will understand. You should explain any abbreviations and medical or other technical terminology you use. Diagrams with explanatory labels can be useful.