Medico legal work requires clear written instructions and a reasonable time scale. I am unable to work in areas outside my areas of expertise, which are described in the Introduction. I can usually see a claimant and prepare a report within 4 weeks of receipt of a letter of instruction. Reasonable requests for more urgent reports can usually be accommodated (see Fees Schedule).
The issuing of a Letter of Instruction implies that the solicitor has agreed to my Terms of Business and Fees Schedule. The solicitor must provide a Letter of Authority including a Statement of Confidentiality signed by the claimant.
My standard practice is to insist on payment prior to my sending the report to the solicitor. Because payment is made in advance of receipt of the report, I am prepared to amend my report where reasonable and necessary. There is no extra charge for this provided these amendments do not contradict the facts given to me by the claimant as recorded in my contemporaneous hand-written notes. More significant revision of the report will attract my Supplementary Reporting Fee, or a further consultation with the claimant for the full medical report fee. My fees and arrangements for payment are irrespective of the funding status (e.g. Publicly Funded/Legal Aid) of the claimant.
I am not prepared to:
- Enter into any arrangement where the amount or payment of my fee is contingent upon the nature of the evidence or the outcome of the case.
- Accept delayed payment, or payment on conclusion of the case.
My fees should not be subject to taxation by the court.
Medical Records: Medical records and X-rays from hospitals and/or general practitioners should be requested by the instructing solicitor for the following reasons:
- Details of any charges can be agreed and accepted directly by the solicitor.
- The solicitor is best placed to find out directly from the claimant where to seek relevant medical records.
- A solicitor is best placed to request records well in advance of a medico legal examination since there is often a substantial delay in obtaining such records.
It is of significant benefit if the solicitor requests such records as early as possible. This speeds up considerably the preparation of a definitive report. If medical records arrive after my medical report has been prepared I am willing to supply additional relevant information in a supplementary letter. This will be without charge unless such information requires revision of my medico legal opinion, in which case my Supplementary Reporting Fee will be charged. I am also willing to reply to written questions of clarification on the content of my report without further charge.
General Practitioners’ records may be of limited value since legibility can be difficult. In addition, photocopied records may have pages, which cannot be definitely identified as belonging to the claimant. If it is likely that the General Practitioner has significant information relating to the medico legal case it is preferable that a factual summary be sought directly from them.
My standard practice is to return all copies of medical records to the solicitor with the completed medical report. This ensures that the solicitor holds all relevant documents.
Joint Statements: Following the preparation of a medical report I am willing to participate in the production of a Joint Statement after discussion with other expert witnesses. An indication of my fee for this work is given in my Fees Schedule, but ultimately depends upon the time and work involved. I reserve the right to discuss and agree this fee with the other expert(s) involved. In order that a satisfactory Joint Statement can be produced I would advise that we are given specific questions to answer and a reasonable timescale.
Joint Instructions: I will accept Joint Instructions in conformity with the Civil Procedure Rules (1998) on the understanding that my appointment is by a single requesting solicitor, who agrees to my Terms of Business and is responsible for my fee.
Unavailability: My availability for meetings or court appearances is generally known approximately 6 months ahead and it is important that it is established at the earliest opportunity. This is best discussed by email to Lesley.LOMAS@spirehealthcare.com and copy me on email@example.com
Intellectual property rights: unless otherwise agreed in writing, all rights of ownership in my medical report shall remain vested in me.
After completion of my report I return copies of medical records to the solicitor. I keep copies of my reports and associated correspondence for five years.
Throughout these Terms of Business the term “solicitor” shall include all other agents (e.g. insurance companies, medico legal report agencies, compensation authorities, employers etc) who provide instructions to me requesting my medical expert witness services.