Best practice guide for expert witnesses: Expert country evidence in asylum and immigration cases in the United Kingdom

Anthony Good and Tobias Kelly from the University of Edinburgh have published a Best Practice Guide for expert witnesses providing country evidence in asylum and immigration cases in the United Kingdom.

Anthony Good is Professor Emeritus in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. He has acted as a country expert in over 500 asylum and immigration appeals, mainly on Sri Lanka, and has authored several publications on the role of expert witnesses in asylum cases (see below).

Tobias Kelly is Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh and has acted as a country expert in over 150 asylum and immigration cases, mainly involving Palestinians.

Expert witnesses are often called upon to provide independent country-specific information in asylum and immigration cases. Such expert evidence can play an important part in the decision making process. There are many highly experienced expert witnesses. Often though, the experts who are asked to provide evidence have relatively little experience in doing so. Writing expert witness reports falls within a very particular genre, far removed from academic and journalistic forms. Expert witnesses therefore need to ensure that their reports meet the expectations and requirements of the legal process in order to best assist the Court or Tribunal. If they do not do so, they risk undermining the value of their own evidence, and therefore its practical use in the asylum and immigration decisionmaking process.
This Best Practice Guide provides advice on how to write effective reports that meet the expert witness’s obligations. The guide focuses on the role of the expert within the UK asylum and immigration system. [...]
The guide includes information on the formal responsibilities of the expert, some of the common dos and don’ts, and examples of structures, stock phrases, and necessary requirements (such as sentences which set out the expert’s credentials and the expert’s understanding of his or her role), points to consider when giving oral evidence, and a discussion about fees.
The guide is written by people with experience of working as country experts in asylum cases, with advice from asylum and immigration lawyers. It is not designed to provide a legal analysis of the role of experts, but rather a practical hands-on tool to aid the writing of effective and useful country evidence reports. Country evidence experts vary greatly in their experience of report writing, and this guide is designed primarily for those who have written relatively few reports.

Read the guide here:

Anthony Good and Tobias Kelly, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh: Expert country evidence in asylum and immigration cases in the United Kingdom – Best Practice Guide, July 2013 (PDF)

Other publications from Anthony Good on expert witnesses in asylum cases:

Anthony Good: ‘Undoubtedly an expert’? Anthropologists in British asylum courts; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; Volume 10, Issue 1, pages 113–133, March 2004

Anthony Good: Anthropology and Expertise in the British Asylum Courts, 2006

Robert Gibb and Anthony Good: Do the Facts Speak for Themselves? Country of Origin Information in French and British Refugee Status Determination Procedures; International Journal of Refugee Law, Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 291-322, June 2013

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