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Expert Witness News

‘Tagging’ will reveal alcohol use in care cases

Picture of SCRAMx being fitted for Your Expert Witness storyParents with alcohol problems involved in care proceedings may be fitted with ankle bracelets that continuously monitor their drinking following a trial that began this week at a London family court, the Law Society Gazette has reported.

The SCRAMx continuous alcohol monitoring device tests for alcohol secretions on the skin every 30 minutes, transmitting results to a commercial firm for analysis by experts and reporting. Dr Claire George, laboratory director at Concateno, the company behind the service, said the device will provide courts with continuous monitoring to determine if a parent is free from alcohol over time.

Hitherto, Concateno has provided expert witness reports on alcohol and drug use via its TrichoTech hair testing service.

Dr George said: "Until now most alcohol-testing focused on recent and past alcohol use, using hair-testing or random point-in-time testing, which could indicate whether a person has consumed alcohol at some point in the last few hours, days or weeks. But it cannot show where a drinking episode began, finished or provide 24/7 monitoring."

The SCRAMx, typically worn for 90 days, is in use in 48 US states. The London court pilot is due to last two to three months, and will be evaluated just after Christmas.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 09:55

Weightmans exceeds half year billing target

Law firm Weightmans has exceeded its half year target, hitting £38.3 million.

Commenting on the firm’s performance, Managing Partner Patrick Gaul said:

“It has been a very encouraging six months. It is particularly pleasing to see our commercial business line exceed its target for the second quarter running and within that figure there was a great performance from construction which has been very busy and working hard. Insurance delivered another very encouraging performance against half year target while public sector also performed well.”

Last Updated on Friday, 09 November 2012 10:08


Appeal Court issues judgment in Prest case

Picture of Royal Courts of Justice for Your Expert witness storyLast October, Nigerian-born oil tycoon Michael Prest was ordered to pay his former wife cash and assets totalling £18m to his former wife. But after months of wrangling in the courts, with the couple running up legal bills of more than £3m, judges at the Court of Appeal handed down a written judgment on26 October saying the amount he had been asked to pay was wrong, cutting his divorce bill by £9m.

The ruling has been called 'disappointing' by lawyers for wives whose husbands might use companies to shelter their wealth.

Top London divorce lawyer Deborah Jeff, a partner at Seddons commented: "The case of Prest highlights again how family law is on the back-foot of commercial law in divorce settlements.

"In 2010, with the case of Tchenguiz and Imerman, a wife was prevented from using documents downloaded from her husband's computer when he sought to hide assets from her. We now have Mr Prest being allowed to use the corporate veil to place assets beyond his wife's control."

Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2012 17:57


Expect more joint instructions, experts warned

The former head of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has predicted many more instances of expert witnesses appearing for both sides in clinical negligence, according to a report in the Law Society Gazette. Steve Walker, who retired as chief executive of the NHSLA in August, told the annual conference of the Expert Witness Institute: "We will be seeing many more joint instructions. It's a bold step, but if the sole purpose of civil litigation is to get to the truth then why not?

"Some of the most critical and best experts simply can't spread themselves too widely – at the moment there is a race to get the best experts on each case and there shouldn't be."

He warned experts against gaining a reputation for giving favourable evidence to either the claimant or the defendant side. He said: "...the judge will know, and invariably they will lose."

Last Updated on Monday, 08 October 2012 17:36


Human trafficking experts publish report on UK

Picture of poster against trafficking for Expert Witness storyOn 12 September the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) published its first report on the UK. According to the report, the UK has taken a number of important steps in the fight against human trafficking; however, more needs to be done to ensure that the overall approach is focused on the victims of trafficking and their rights as human beings.

The report welcomes the fact that, despite difficult economic circumstances, government funding to support victims of human trafficking has been maintained at over £2.75m per year across the UK. It also highlights numerous positive developments, including the creation of the UK Human Trafficking Centre and a National Referral Mechanism for identifying and assisting victims, as well as the adoption of a four-year Strategy on Human Trafficking covering the period 2011-2015.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2012 16:55