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Why Is Psychology Important to Understanding Law? - Prof. Hugh Koch, Dr Tracey Jackson, Dr Victoria Byram & Dr Claire Wilson

18/01/18. Human factors affect the process of civil litigation and the behaviour of the various participants, claimants, lawyers, experts, barristers and judiciary. Psychology, since its inception as a body of science, has offered a variety of different branches, namely, clinical, forensic, social/communication and organisational, to help understand psychological and social factors in every day life. Each of these affects the process of civil litigation in many different ways. For example:

  1. Clinical psychology helps experts and lawyers to understand how trauma, personal injury or medical negligence has impacted on an individual’s mental state

  2. Forensic psychology helps the court understand to what extent an individual has given evidence which is reliable and truthful

  3. Social/communication psychology is crucial to the main method of debating evidence i.e. by written or face-to-face communication and how conflicts in evidence get debated and resolved

  4. Organisational psychology, the more recent of the four branches listed, adopts a multi-person/group approach to understanding how the court ‘system’ operates and what processes can be continuously improved

Collaboration between the major UK medico-legal firm, Hugh Koch Associates, and the centre for Law, Science and Policy, at Birmingham City University, will result in a series of articles which addresses, in detail, how psychology is important, if not crucial, to understanding civil law. These articles will address the following topics: -

  1. Enhancing claimant understanding and wellbeing during litigation

  2. What can psychology contribute to judicial decision making?

  3. Justice as a multi-person social process. The role of social psychology of civil law

  4. Psychological and legal aspects of trauma.

  5. Psychological aspects of conflict resolution. Joint Statement & Alternate Dispute Resolution.

  6. Making the most of your day: How can lawyers and experts manage stress and wellbeing.

  7. Psychology, Law and Politics of everyday media events.

This pioneering research and publication programme develops the interface between psychology and law, involving actions with The Centre for Law, Science and Policy at Birmingham City University. We will be engaging in several areas of activity including interdisciplinary collaboration which will inform teaching, research and training both for undergraduates, postgraduates and qualified staff both at University and in the community.


Koch HCH (2016) Legal Mind: Contemporary Issues in Psychological Injury and Law. Expert Witness Publications. Manchester.

Koch HCH (2017) Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Civil Law: A UK Perspective. Expert Witness Journal. Winter 2017.

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