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Medico-Legal Reports

A Medico-Legal Report documents the psychological and/or physical result of torture and other forms of ill-treatment to which an individual has been subjected. Medico-Legal Reports (MLRs) are written by qualified clinical experts and are commissioned by a legal representative who provides detailed instructions. Medico-Legal Reports are submitted to the Home Office or Tribunal in order to seek to corroborate a survivor’s testimony of ill-treatment as an aspect of their asylum, trafficking, and/or legal protection claim.

If you are a legal representative for a survivor of trafficking or torture, you may wish to request a Medico-Legal Report from the Helen Bamber Foundation. You can make a “Medico-Legal Report (MLR) Only” referral for an individual using our online referral form. This does not include access to the other areas of our service, such as therapy.

Referrals for Medico-Legal Reports must be submitted by the clients’ legal representative. We can offer Medico-Legal Reports to individuals living anywhere in the UK (unlike for our full range of care).

Each of our Medico-Legal Report writers has been trained in the forensic documentation of the physical and/or psychological and emotional sequelae of torture, ill-treatment and other serious forms of physical, psychological, or sexual violence in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol.

Our clinicians’ expertise and experience in their field are recognised by the Home Office and the Tribunals. All of our clinicians receive ongoing training, mentoring and support to maintain the quality and integrity of our reports.

Medico Legal Report FAQs
Remote Medico-Legal Reports

MLRs are being carried out remotely, where needed, therefore we draw your attention to the following for such ‘MLR only’ referrals:

  • Please consider whether your client is suitable to undergo a remote assessment (for example do they have access to safe and private space?). Please refer to guidance on remote MLRs found here.
  • Please ensure that you read and complete the safeguarding form for remote MLRs found here and upload this with the documents you submit for referral. We regret we are unable to consider your referral without the completed form.
  • We regret that we are unable to accept referrals where there is an imminent deadline (i.e. an upcoming appeal hearing). Under the terms of the Home Office API (details found here) our timeframe to produce an MLR is five months from the date that instructions are received. Therefore, please consider whether there are any immovable deadlines due on the case before making the referral.
Why refer your client for a Medico-Legal Report from the Helen Bamber Foundation?

The Helen Bamber Foundation is officially recognised by the Home Office for its independence and expertise in identifying and treating victims of torture and other serious abuses (see API on Medico-Legal Reports).

How can I refer my client for a Medico-Legal Report?

If you are a legal representative and would like us to produce a Medico Legal Report for your client, you will need to submit this request through our online referrals form. You will need to select ‘Medico-Legal Report (MLR) Only’.

You will not be able to make the referral without:

  1. Submitting it via our online referrals system
  2. Including a signed consent form, showing that the client agrees to the referral

To find out more about our referrals process, please see our referrals page.

How does the Medico-Legal Report process work?

Once the case is accepted at our multi-disciplinary referrals meeting, we will email a Report Order Form (ROF) and Fee Quotation to the instructing party, together with a copy of our Terms and Conditions. Receipt of the signed Report Order Form constitutes the contract between the parties.

What documentation does the legal representative need to provide?

With the signed Report Order Form (and not before), we ask for instructions by the legal representative, to direct the writer in their report. If you have not previously drafted a Letter of Instruction (LOI), please request a template Letter of Instruction from our Medico-Legal Report Services Manager.

When instructing for a medico-legal report, we require a Letter of Instruction to be provided. Ordinarily we expect this to include the following:

  1. A list of documents provided;
  2. Details about the legal history of the case;
  3. Information about any issues regarding credibility or discrepancies;
  4. The background/history of trauma;
  5. An indication of the type of report required (and whether there are any understood to be no physical injuries; and
  6. Specific instructions you would like to be addressed by the clinician.

Please include all legal documents and a complete set of medical records. Following receipt of instructions and full set of documents, we will make an appointment with the examining clinician.

How should documents be sent?

We request that large bundles of documents are separated into their component parts and sent as separate pdfs, word documents or a secure link to a cloud storage site. Photographs must be supplied in .jpeg format with the metadata available (we cannot accept .tif files). Documents and photographs sent in other formats may not be viewed and/or referred to in any MLR.

All documents should be named to indicate their contents. Indexed documents should be reflected in the instructions and/or HBF forms.

HBF does not have the capacity or means to separate out the contents of large bundles and we reserve the right to return such bundles unread with a request that they be appropriately separated and indexed. This may result in a delay in commencing the MLR process.

In order to continue to work in a GPDR compliant manner we request that large bundles are not sent to us by post and are instead scanned as set out above.

Arranging and attending the appointment

An appointment for a Medico-Legal Report assessment may only be made upon receipt of the required documentation. The instructing party is responsible for explaining to their client the purpose of the appointment to ensure they are aware of what this entails and why they are being assessed.

It is the instructing party’s responsibility to ensure that HBF is informed of their clients’ preferences in terms of both clinician and interpreter’s gender at the time of submission of the referral and specific instructions. It is essential that the instructing party consider any issue related to disclosure when doing so. Whenever possible it is HBF practice to allocate gender-appropriate clinicians and interpreters. On occasion only a clinician and/or interpreter of a different gender may available within a reasonable timescale. To avoid delay, this arrangement will be offered. If this is inappropriate in the particular circumstances of the case, this must be made clear.

Upon prior request, a “chaperone” may be available to attend all or part of the examination. The instructing party has the responsibility to discuss this with the client in advance of any appointment, if advised to do so by the Foundation.

"A chaperone is an independent person, appropriately trained, whose role is to independently observe the examination/procedure undertaken by the doctor/health professional to assist the appropriate doctor-patient relationship."

A chaperone is present as a safeguard for all parties and is a witness to continuing consent.

Client travel expenses to attend the appointment

The Foundation is not responsible for travel expenses incurred by clients during the preparation of Medico-Legal Reports. It is the instructing solicitors’ responsibility to assist clients in obtaining tickets for travel and any arising accommodation needs in advance of the assessment appointment(s). Where instructing solicitors have not arranged for their client travel and any arising accommodation needs, the Foundation will invoice the instructing solicitor for payments made by the Foundation to reimburse these costs to the client.

Timescales to produce reports

The Home Office Asylum Policy Instruction states the following on the estimated target date for completion of MLRs produced by HBF (Section 2.5 of the API):

“The Foundations aim to produce a full MLR within five months of the date that the legal representative or applicant has been notified in writing that the case has been placed on hold by the Home Office. However, flexibility is required when considering whether to delay cases beyond the five month target as there may be exceptional reasons for delay.”

HBF uses its best endeavours to comply with these target deadlines and, in many cases can produce reports within that timescale. Please note that the five month period starts from the date we receive the letter of instruction and the full set of documents.

Please advise of any upcoming deadlines or court hearing dates. Where possible, subject to HBF's capacity at any time, we will adjust the target date for completion of the report.

In circumstances where a hearing date has been set and our capacity does not permit us to produce a report in sufficient time, a letter may be requested explaining this. If requested prior to the examination, this letter will explain the anticipated target date for the preparation of the report. If requested post examination, the letter will describe those areas which it is anticipated will be covered by the report (to enable the instructing party to demonstrate the likely relevance of the report).

Contents of a Medico-Legal Report

A medico-legal report from the Helen Bamber Foundation will cover the following as standard:

  1. Background & History of trauma
  2. Physical injuries
  3. Mental health
  4. Clinical Plausibility
  5. Treatment, recommendations, and prognosis
  6. Fitness to give evidence
  7. Fitness to be detained
  8. Suicide risk (if relevant)
  9. Risk & Vulnerability on return
Typology of Helen Bamber Foundation Medico-Legal Reports

There are a number of different types of MLRs that can be produced depending on the individual facts of the case. Listed below are the different types of MLRs that we produce:

  • Full Medico-legal Report (Full MLR)

Physical assessment of scars/physical injuries and assessment of psychological/emotional sequelae attributed to ill-treatment – completed by a doctor (usually a GP)

  • Psychiatric medico-legal report (Psych MLR)

Psychiatric assessment –completed by a psychiatrist

  • Psychological medico-legal report (Clin Psych MLR)

Psychological assessment –completed by a clinical psychologist

  • Addendum report (Add)

Updated reports usually prepared by the original MLR writer

  • Supplementary report

Additional report prepared by another specialist

  • Response to refusal letter/rebuttal (R) (also headed Addendum report)

A document we produce as a follow up to issuing an MLR, where there has been a decision which engages with or fails to engage appropriately with a previous MLR. This addendum report seeks to clarify issues raised in a decision by our clinical evidence. These are generally prepared by the original MLR writer closely supported by one of our legal officers

  •  Professional reports 

Prepared by a treating HBF clinician. (Subject to capacity and only for clients who are receiving therapy at HBF)

Fees and payment

Since February 2017, the Helen Bamber Foundation is required to charge an hourly rate for Medico-Legal Reports or letters of clinical concern where the matter is funded by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).

When a client is accepted for a Medico-Legal Report, an estimated quote is sent, along with acceptance details. Estimated quotes are usually calculated between 12 and 15 hours for the more straightforward cases (at the appropriate rate determined by the LAA from time to time) and are broken down as follows:

  • Reading and other preparation:
  • Assessment:
  • Drafting:

Should we consider that extra funding is required, due to the complexity of the case, the number of documents to be read and considered, or following receipt of further instructions, the instructing party may be asked to seek additional funding from the Legal Aid Agency.

Delays in obtaining funding may result in corresponding delays in commencing or concluding a Medico-Legal Report as funding cannot be applied retrospectively and therefore work on a report cannot be carried out until the Helen Bamber Foundation is notified that funding is in place.

When the report is finalised and delivered, the instructing party will only be invoiced for the actual hours spent by the clinician in the preparation of the report. The instructing party is required to pay within 30 days from the receipt of the medico-legal report.

Privately paying clients and pro bono reports

The Helen Bamber Foundation may, in certain circumstances, agree to lower the quote where the client is not in receipt of Legal Aid. Please specify if the client is not legally aided when you submit the referral for a Medico-Legal Report to the Helen Bamber Foundation.

HBF’s capacity to produce pro bono reports is exceptionally limited. Please note that all requests for pro-bono reports have to be agreed at the time of the referral.

Legal Aid Agency Concessions

Pre-decision Legal Aid Agency concession

Please note that where a decision has yet to be made on an initial asylum claim, the Legal Aid Agency have agreed to the practice of granting funding pre-decision.

Please refer to paragraph 14.7 of the Escape Cases Electronic Handbook for Controlled Work (Last review date 21/04/17).

LAA Concession 2 - Alternative quotes

Where funding is sought for a report from Helen Bamber Foundation it is not necessary to obtain alternative quotations. The LAA CW3 checklist sets out that: “Where funding is sought for a report from either organisation it is not necessary to obtain alternative quotations. However, confirmation from the organisation that they have agreed to produce a report, the type of the report and the cost of the report must be provided.” (Point 15)

Disclosure of clinical records

Please note that the Foundation does not disclose internal clinical records.

Should this be an issue please discuss this with the Head of Legal Protection and Co-Heads of Therapy.