Faqs

For all our most commonly asked questions, please see below or get in touch

  • How to join?
  • Getting started in medicolegal report writing
  • FAQs on MedCo
  • Expert Witness Fees
    • Signing up for the first time?

      1. Visit www.mlacp.org.uk
      2. Click either "Join us" or "Members sign up" (they're the same thing!)
      3. Fill out your details
      4. At the end make payment via credit card using Paypal

    • Existing members renewing online for the first time?

      If you are an existing member but this is the first time you have renewed your membership via the website then please follow these steps:

      1. Visit www.mlacp.org.uk
      2. Click either "Join us" or "Members sign up" (they're the same thing!)
      3. Fill out your details
      4. At the end make payment via credit card using Paypal

    • How do I renew my membership each year after I have signed up?

      We will send all members notification in January of each year to ask you to renew your membership via our website.

    • What is an ‘expert ’?

      In legal terms an ‘expert’ is a person who has some form of specialist knowledge over and above the knowledge held by the ‘ordinary person in the street’. So a person writing an ‘expert’ report in ‘physiotherapy’ is restricted to those people who are defined as legally able to practise using the title physiotherapist i.e. those on the HCPC register. It is completely different from any clinical considerations on what makes a person an expert. In clinical practice, expert level practitioners, broadly speaking, tend to be people that peers would turn to for advice about complex cases/situations

    • What is an ‘expert witness’?

      In physiotherapy practice, these are physiotherapists are wholly independent of the patient and have never been involved in their treatment. They are engaged to give an opinion on the standard of physiotherapy care given in relation to the legal issues of the case. The work involves preparing reports, taking part in case conferences and giving evidence during a legal case for compensation following an accident or injury as part of a personal injury or clinical negligence claim. It can also involve work in the criminal courts.
      Expert witnesses tend to focus on one specific theme of accepted practice e.g. adult musculoskeletal or paediatric neurology etc. Whilst it is fully accepted that some clinical physiotherapists will chose to be ‘general practitioner’ physiotherapists and offer services across a range of areas, for expert witness work, solicitors tend to be looking for a physiotherapist who has a clear focus in their work to the matter at issue in the claim. If initially you believe you can offer ‘expert witness’ services across several broad areas of practice, we advise that you reflect on your practice and refine your choice to one or two main areas.

    • How do I become an expert witness

      To be a credible expert witness, not only must you have expertise in your clinical and/or practice area but you must also have specific training in the expert report writing process and the Civil and/or Criminal Procedure Rules. Once you have decided you are ready to do this area of work, you should identify what your areas of expertise is, and what type of reports you want to write. Undertake some relevant training. Join a professional network to network with similar peers. You might want to start out by working within a larger medicolegal practice to undertake supervised report writing. Keep yourself current by doing annual CPD in medicolegal field. As you do more work you will build your networks and make contacts.

    • What kind of reports can I write?

      It’s up to you to choose what you wish to focus on. Several different types of report are needed for medicolegal purposes. It is unlikely you will be able to do all of them, and it is common for experts to specify what kind of report they will undertake. You may undertake MedCo reports for low value whiplash claims. For clinical negligence cases you could be asked to do one of several types of report: ‘breach of duty’, ‘causation and liability’, ‘condition and prognosis’ or a ‘quantum’ report. Another report you could be asked to write are ‘physiotherapy needs’ reports which may be used for educational or care needs, rather than the litigation process.

    • Do I have to follow any specific rules for medico-legal report writing?

      Yes. There are two sets of mandatory procedural rules that apply to expert witness reports. These are the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) Part 35 and the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR) Part 19.
      Medico-legal reports must meet the CPR or Crim PR standards and your report can be rejected by the Court if they do not meet them. In some cases it can be enough for the defendant to show the claimant expert has not followed the relevant Rules such that the whole case collapses. That’s why it’s essential that experts know which rules to follow, what those rules are, and follow them. By signing your ‘experts declaration’ on your report you are making a legally binding statement that you have done this. How you ensure you meet the CPR Rules is up to you, but the easiest and simplest way is to get some training. The MLACP offer training, as do a number of other training providers.

    • Do I have to have specific training in report writing to be an expert witness?

      Yes. The type of report writing you undertake may determine which type of training course you need to do. For MedCo reports, from April 2016, you must hold a MedCo accredited training certificate. The MedCo training is specific to whiplash reports and will not automatically provide evidence that you can write other types of report, but the legal aspects of the course, including understanding CPR Part 35 Rules, will be transferrable to other reports. There are a range of specific training courses for clinical negligence report writing available from the MLACP and other commercial training providers.

    • How many years post-registration experience do I need before I can do expert witness work?

      There is no set number of year’s post-registration experience that you need to have. You do need to be able to clearly show that you have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to be considered an ‘expert’ in your field, which is unlikely to be developed in the early years of your career.

    • Do I need to be currently practising?

      Yes. You may be practising the profession in any context, for example, direct care, education, management, research, policy & leadership or regulation. The instructing solicitor will determine exactly what expertise they need for their case, and so whether to instruct you or not, but in all cases they need to be assured that you have credibility by being a current in your field. If you have retired, or are on a career break, it may be difficult to demonstrate your currency in practice.

    • What other skills are needed for medicolegal work?

      You need to be able to process, analyse and critique large amounts of potentially conflicting information to produce an objective, independent written opinion about a case. You need excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation abilities to produce a fluent report that meets CPR standards that can be used to inform the legal process. You need excellent oral skills to present your views in case conferences and Court, in order to share your opinions in a clear, concise, objective and persuasive manner.

    • Do I need to join MLACP?

      Membership of MLACP does not provide exclusive evidence of the ability to demonstrate appropriate standards of education in medicolegal report writing. However, many solicitors looking to instruct a report from a physiotherapist will ask that they are a member of MLACP. MLACP sets its own expectations of membership, and you will need to meet these to join. MLACP also provides access to training, and ongoing professional development as part of a wider programme of CPD and member benefits.

    • What do I need to do to be listed on MLACP’s Directory of Members?

      You must have current HCPC registration and CSP membership. You must provide evidence that you have specific training in medicolegal report writing. You must agree to abide by our expectations of membership.

    • What key documents will I need to start work as an expert witness?

      You must have an up to date CV. We provide an example of a model CV layout for MLACP members that meets a format developed by The Academy of Experts’ Judicial Committee in February 2015 . This format was created to address concerns raised by judges about the quality of CVs in the reports they were seeing. Brevity, clarity and relevance to the case in question are the hallmarks of a good CV.
      You should have a set of standard terms and conditions that sets out your terms of business. We provide an example draft set of terms of business for MLACP members that you can adapt to your needs.
      You should have a good model report structure. We provide an example of a model report layout for MLACP members that will help ensure your reports are CPR Part 35 compliant.

    • Do I need to take any other advice?

      You may want to talk to an accountant because your own individual circumstances may influence how much tax you need to pay on your extra income. You may also want to take advice on how to structure your business, and this might mean you need to seek insurance advice to ensure you have the right indemnities in place for your work.

    • Where can I find further information?

      Tax Advice - HMRC
      http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

      CSP PLI Insurance Pages
      http://www.csp.org.uk/professional-union/practice/insurance

      MedCo
      http://www.medco.org.uk

    • What is MedCo?

      MedCo is a non-profit private organisation. MedCo is run by its Board of Members which is made up of a number of organisations which represent the medical profession, insurers, and claimant solicitors. Each Member organisation appoints an individual to act as a Director. MedCo has been set up with three objectives. Firstly, to be an ‘accredited supplier’ of medico-legal reports for the purpose of settling low value personal injury claims arising from soft tissue (whiplash) injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions. Secondly, it assesses the suitability of both individuals and medical reporting organisations (MROs) who wish to be registered with MedCo as providing these reports. Thirdly, it provides a portal system by which solicitors and others seeking ‘whiplash’ reports are provided with a random list of individuals and MROs who can provide the report.

    • Why was MedCo created?

      There are a high number of fraudulent claims relating to whiplash injuries following motor vehicle collisions. The Government is seeking to reduce fraudulent claims by creating a central portal for the request and supply of such reports and is also introducing fixed fees for these reports in an attempt to manage costs.

    • Is the CSP part of MedCo?

      Yes. The CSP is a Member of MedCo in recognition of the role of physiotherapists in being experts in reporting on whiplash injuries in personal injury claims. The CSP has appointed Brian Simpson (MCSP DSA) as the CSP’s Director on MedCo. Brian is Chair of the MLACP and experienced in medicolegal reporting. Brian ensures that the interest of the CSP and its members are represented in MedCo business.

    • What kind of reports do MedCo provide?

      Reports for low value (less than £25k) fast track claims for personal injury caused by motor vehicle collision. From April 2016, only individuals or MROs registered with MedCo can provide these reports, in accordance with the fixed fee schedule payable.

    • Can I do these reports without being MedCo registered?

      No. From April 2016, only individuals or MROs registered with MedCo can provide these reports, in accordance with the fixed fee payment schedule

    • Does being registered with MedCo mean I am guaranteed whiplash reporting work?

      No. When solicitors ask for a whiplash report through the MedCo portal they are provided with a random selection of 7 accredited MedCo experts (a mixture of individuals and MROs). The solicitor then appoints their expert from this list of 7. There is no guarantee that your name will be selected as part of the MedCo random list generation, nor that any solicitor will pick you if you are on the list of 7. MedCo ensures fairness by apportioning the experts using a quota system so that after a set number of instructions, any one expert will not be selected again until the rest of the experts in that area have received a similar number of instructions

    • How do I register with MedCo?

      Visit www.medco.org.uk. You will need to complete the application process and pay the appropriate fee to register. From April 2016 you will need to prove you have completed the MedCo accredited training in order to get registered

    • Do I have to have specific training in report writing to be registered with MedCo?

      Yes. From April 2016 you must have completed the MedCo approved training in order to register with MedCo. If you are already registered with MedCo, you have until April 2016 to complete the approved training if you want to stay registered. The course is based online and you must complete and pass all elements.

    • Do MedCo reports need to be compliant with the Civil Procedure Rules Part 35 (2014)?

      Yes. This is to ensure that whiplash experts write their reports in the full understanding that their duty is to the Court. This means that experts, amongst other things, sign a statement of truth that their report is impartial and meets other legal requirements in order to be used as evidence in court proceedings.

    • How much does the MedCo training cost?

      We will be able to confirm this shortly once MedCo release details. This expense may be tax deductible as part of your business expenses.

    • Does the MedCo training qualify me to write other types of medico-legal reports?

      No. It is only relevant for writing reports for low value (less than £25k) fast track claims for personal injury caused by motor vehicle collision. If you also want to do reports for any other litigation, such as clinical negligence reports (breach, causation, quantum or condition and prognosis) or needs assessment reports you will need to undertake training to establish and maintain your skills for these types of reports too.

    • Will my MedCo registration be identifiable on my MLACP membership?

      Yes. If you are MedCo registered you can highlight this on your MLACP joining and/or renewal form. If you are eligible to be listed in our Directory of Members, then your MedCo registration will show up. However, solicitors cannot instruct you to a whiplash report directly from our Directory, as they must use the MedCo portal to get a random list of whiplash experts.

    • Where can I find further information?

      CSP webpages:
      http://www.csp.org.uk/professional-union/practice/whiplash-reporting-legal-changes

      MedCo:
      http://www.medco.org.uk

    • Can you tell me what I can charge for my work?

      No. The Competition Act means we are not allowed to tell you what to charge for your work. We cannot give you personal advice but we can give you general information to help you make your own decisions.

    • What can I charge for my work?

      It depends on the kind of reports you write. Some kinds of report have set fixed fee rate which we can tell you. Physiotherapy reports that are funded under Legal Aid rates have a fee rate of £64.80 per hour. MedCo reports for whiplash claims have a fixed fee of £180 for the first report, £180 for the second report, £50 for every report thereafter, and £80 for answering supplementary Part 35 questions. Reports done for the NHS Litigation Authority tend to be on a standard fixed fee of around £400-£500 pounds.

      For other types of report, your fees will be dependent on the market rate combined with considering how specialist your area of expertise is, and how experienced you are in medico-legal report writing. You should bear in mind that expert witness work is ‘high-risk’ work whereby your individual credibility as both a professional and as an expert is under scrutiny and may be challenged. Rates for expert witness work reflect this risk and are significantly higher than for other forms of physiotherapy practice such as clinical work or lecturing.

      Ultimately how much you can charge will depend on how much solicitors are willing or able to pay. You need to strike a careful balance between charging a fair rate for your expertise versus pricing yourself out of the market. If you overcharge relative to your experience in medicolegal work you risk delivering poor quality work which does not help the client, and also means you may not be reinstructed or recommended.

    • How do I set my fees?

      Your pricing structure is up to you and may vary on a case by case basis. You may charge an hourly rate or you may wish to charge a fixed fee for a whole report. There are pros and cons to both. However you decide to charge, your pricing should be clear in your Terms of Business with your instructing solicitor and you should both agree your fees before undertaking the work to avoid disputes later. For some kinds of reports you may be expected to provide a ‘costs budget’ and estimate your entire fees for the case as part of the overall management of the litigation by the solicitor.

    • Do I need to charge VAT?

      This is a business decision for you and you may wish to seek the advice of an accountant who will consider what is best for your business circumstances. VAT can be charged on expert reports if you are VAT registered. You must register for VAT if your business turnover is above a certain level, or you can voluntarily register to pay VAT if it is in your business’s interest.

    • Do I need to do anything else relating to my fees?

      You must declare all your income to HMRC and you may wish to take the advice of an accountant or a tax expert to ensure you comply with the relevant rules. If you use Self-Assessment you may find the HMRC website helpful.

    • Further Information

      HMRC
      www.hmrc.gov.uk