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How to Audit an Expert Report - Dr Mark Burgin

04/07/22. Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP explains the general principles behind auditing expert reports for the civil, family and criminal courts.

All reports have basically the same function, to provide a reasonable and logical explanation of the evidence for the court in a language that can be understood.

The purpose of an audit is to consider whether the report has achieved its function but also whether it has complied with the rules.

Whilst CPR35, CrimPR19, FPR25 and practice directions have some minor differences of approach there are more similarities than variation.

Where a practice rules is silent on an issue it is likely that the courts would follow the practice rules in another CrimPR19 is generally harsher, CPR35 most complete.

Compliance with Practice Rules

Experts find complying with legal rules difficult because they do not see it as ‘their subject’ and the rules require a different way of thinking.

The general principles in practice rules fall into about 10 areas which can be used to structure analysis for the report.

· 'To the court'

· Independence.

· Summary of instructions

· Relevant expertise

· Material facts

· Limitations of evidence

· Separate facts and opinions.

· Range of opinion

· Logical and reasonable.

· Summary of the Conclusions

A report that does not comply with one or two of the principles can still be adequate, but the quality of the evidence degrades more with each successive breach.

Whether the report is effective

There is a common fallacy that an expert report is no more than the expert’s opinion but many lawyers do read further than the expert’s opinion.

The report should set the scene describing the expert, their experience and the purpose of the report in enough detail for the reader.

The evidence in case should be summarised and detailed so that the reader does not need to read the original source to understand.

The summary, conclusions and reasoning must deal with inconsistencies and note any limits to the evidence.


A critical part of any audit is recommendations for improvement as the expert will want to improve their reports in future.

By explaining in detail why a section of the report fails to do what it should do and give an example of how to write that section differently, assists the expert.

They can then consider the feedback when writing their personal development plan for the next year and use it to focus their learning.

The recommendations should not be prescriptive but be in sufficient detail so that the expert can determine what needs to change.


An auditor of expert reports should check that the legal rules are followed as they provide the framework for a good report.

The subject matter of the report needs to be thoroughly considered and any inconsistencies recognised and addressed.

The auditor should offer general advice on what the court is looking for and steps that could be taken to make improvements.

The gold standard is auditing of 1% of the expert’s reports using several auditors including experts from another field to give 360 degree feedback.

This is part of a series of articles by Dr. Mark Burgin. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website

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The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

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