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Medical Expert Reports

Asylum & Human Rights

Medical Expert Reports

A medical expert report or medico-legal report is a report which is written by a doctor or another health professional for legal proceedings.  A medico-legal report is the written evidence of a medical expert witness.  Medico-legal reporting may be commissioned for an actual or potential case.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that the lower courts were wrong to override the conclusions of a medical expert when considering forensic evidence of torture in an asylum claim.

An asylum seeker from Sri Lanka, known as ‘KV’, appealed a Home Office decision to refuse his asylum claim. Expert medical opinion assessing evidence of torture and presented to the Tribunal concluded that the physical evidence of torture, mainly comprising scarring from having hot metal rods applied to his skin, was highly consistent with his account of torture.

The Supreme Court recognised that the Istanbul Protocol, the internationally recognised standards for documenting torture and ill-treatment endorsed by the United Nations, is ‘equally authoritative’ to the Tribunal’s Practice Direction on the duties of experts when it comes to cases involving allegations of torture.

A medico-legal report is therefore an important legal document, which is used to support a torture survivor’s asylum claim at both the Home Office and/or at the Tribunal stage.

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