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Feedback From Irwin Mitchell's Mock Courtroom Trial By Fiona Powell

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On the 8th of December 2019, I attended Irwin Mitchell’s “Mock Southwest Trial” in Bristol. This featured a mock judge, claimant and defendant barristers, and a case manager.

We were treated to a mock cross examination of the case manager and care expert on a real case of a young lady who had sustained a TBI, with ongoing cognitive effects, as well as anxiety, poor self-esteem and depression.

It was a very interesting watch and provided useful experience on the approaches used in cross examination, as well as an opportunity to quiz the barristers.

Tips from the barristers:

Don’t become an advocate. You will not meet part 35 of the CPR rules.

• You are there to educate the judge. Use your experience to help get a point across “as an experienced OT/case manager …”

• Do not argue. Avoid direct confrontation.

• Do not pretend to be a medical expert. Stay within your expertise

• There is no harm in recognising different shades of opinion. It is better to seek minor concessions - it shows you are reasonable and accepting that there are a range of opinions “however I prefer…”, or “whilst this may be acceptable practice, in my experience.”

• The records that you make during assessment are vital. Take them with you.

• Be able to discuss the risks of non-provision of your recommendations. For example, if you have recommended paid care, be able to breakdown the risks of using gratuitous care. What will happen if this level of care cannot be provided by a family member?

And finally!

• Don’t put yourself in a position of changing your opinion in court if this has not been previously disclosed! i.e. you must never lie or hold an opinion that is not your opinion — so preparation is the key to ensure you will be able to hold your opinion in the witness box.

To view Fiona Powell's, Somek OT expert witness,CV, please click here.