‘Psy’ expert evidence in the family courts

the potential for corpus-assisted analysis


  • Lauren Devine
  • et al.


This article introduces corpus-assisted linguistic methods as an
exploratory means of analysing expert psychologists’ reports used in public family
law (child protection) cases. Analysis of this dataset is a new application for corpus
linguistics (CL) and the primary purpose of this article is to explore viability and
potential for its future research using CL as a core method. For this study we have
created and analysed a 25 single-text-type specialised written corpus consisting of
25 expert psychologists’ reports (the Psychology Report Corpus “PRC-25”). The
reports are a random sample selected from a population of all psychologists’
reports held in Cafcass files over a 10-year period, representing the first corpus
of its kind in a currently under-researched area. Our study uses both an inductive
(data-driven) approach to identify significant themes and topics in the reports,
and a deductive (legal-intuitive) approach to explore psychologists’ use of legally
significant terms, especially risk of and significant harm. We also explore the
possibility for using this new methodological protocol to triangulate analysis
of a larger and representative corpus of expert psychologists’ reports, and the
possibilities for corpus-driven analysis of the genre of written expert evidence text
types more generally.




How to Cite

Devine, L. ., & et al. (2022). ‘Psy’ expert evidence in the family courts: the potential for corpus-assisted analysis. Language and Law / Linguagem E Direito, 9(1). Retrieved from https://ojs.letras.up.pt/index.php/LLLD/article/view/12828