Expert Evidence and Medical Manslaughter: Vagueness in Action

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the reliance placed on expert evidence in prosecutions of health professionals for gross negligence manslaughter, where juries must decide whether conduct goes beyond civil negligence and constitutes the crime of involuntary manslaughter. It argues that the test for liability is vague and examines some of the consequences of this. Given the vagueness of the offence, jurors are likely to place great reliance on expert medical evidence. Little is known about how experts negotiate the legal process, empirically speaking: how they approach their task, how they view their role as expert witnesses, and the attitudes, biases, and beliefs that may underpin their testimony. Drawing on the experiences and perceptions of ten medical experts, this article explores how experts manage the vagueness inherent in the task of interpreting and applying gross negligence. Experts appear to go beyond offering purely medical opinion and enjoy engaging with law and the legal process.
Translated title of the contributionExpert Evidence and Medical Manslaughter: Vagueness in Action
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496 - 518
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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