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What to consider when choosing a handwriting expert

If you have ever required the services of a handwriting expert then it is most likely because you needed to determine if a document had been written or signed by the claimed person. Whether as an individual requiring this service to prove the validity of a document or as a legal professional working on behalf of your client, choosing the right expert to conduct a handwriting examination is key to getting the professional service and result you require. For this reason, we have prepared a few factors to consider when selecting a handwriting expert to work with.

Handwriting examination qualifications

The most important thing to determine before choosing to work with a handwriting expert, is what training they have. We recommend that when choosing your expert, you look for one who has completed at least a two year extensive training programme with a recognised forensic laboratory. Whilst there are courses offered through distance learning, we do not believe this gives the practical experience needed to deliver the accuracy required in this industry.

The Forensic Science Regulator states that “The provision of qualifications and experience in an expert’s report is to support the claim to expertise. The listing of memberships of organisations should be considered in that context…Listing of memberships of organisations which do not amount to qualifications in reports is, at the least, irrelevant and may be misleading. The same is true of the use of post nominal letters.”

Both Kate and Steve have undergraduate science degrees and trained within Government Laboratories following established operating procedures agreed throughout Europe, and with access to an extensive library of books and papers.  They regularly partake in continuous professional development and proficiency trials.

Handwriting examination experience

Another important factor before choosing to work with a handwriting expert, is how much experience they have. Search online for handwriting analysis and you will find plenty of services on offer, but many of these also specialise in identifying personality traits from writing styles rather than working on a legal basis to verify the authenticity of a document.

It is therefore advisable to review the experience of your expert before commissioning their services and whether they can produce court compliant reports and are willing to give evidence in court if needed.  Key areas to check include the number and type of cases they have worked on previously. At Cosslett and Barr we have extensive experience of giving evidence as handwriting experts in criminal and civil cases, mainly here in the UK, but also overseas.

Areas of expertise

When choosing a handwriting expert to work with, it is important to look at the areas of expertise that they offer, as the more expertise they have in different areas of forensic document examination, the better they will be positioned to deal with your case. For example, there are many different types of analysis, from comparing handwriting and signatures, to looking for indented impressions and examining documents for alterations. The wider the areas of expertise within the industry, the more experience the expert can bring to your case.

At Cosslett and Barr we specialise in a wide range of forensic document examination including:

This service range means we have the experience not only in comparing handwriting and signatures on documents, but also examining the ink used to determine if there have been alterations and examining the machines used, such as photocopiers and printers, to determine if they produced the documents in question.

Peer reviews

In order to prove further the reliability of results, your handwriting expert should also ensure that all work is peer reviewed before it is released, as is standard in forensic laboratories. At Cosslett and Barr we ensure that all our findings are checked by a second expert who is also a working specialist in the same field.

Working with our handwriting experts

If you would like to find out more information or request a free quotation for the services of our handwriting experts, please contact us on 0121 781 7216 or 07419 191119. Alternatively, please click here to email us and we will get back to you to answer your questions.

Can I comment on how quickly and efficiently your company were able to respond to my request – I will keep your details on my file to not hesitate to contact again should the need arise

Solicitor, Stoke on Trent


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