Episode 28: 'I swear to tell the whole truth’ - PART 3

Author: Eoghan Colgan @eoghan_colgan
Special Guests: Sheriff Andrew Cubie, Dr David Parratt QC, Moira Orr (Procurator Fiscal)



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Guest Bios


Sheriff Andrew Cubie graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the University of Glasgow. He was a solicitor in private practice in Glasgow from 1987, specialising in civil court work, with emphasis on family law. He was appointed as a Temporary sheriff from 1997-1999. He was admitted as a Solicitor Advocate with rights of audience in the Court of Session in 2001. During his time in private practice he taught civil procedure at Strathclyde University and the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He devised and taught an in-house course for the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Sheriff Cubie was appointed as a permanent Sheriff from 2003. Initially an all- Scotland Floating Sheriff, he was a resident Sheriff at Stirling from December 2004 to June 2010 when he moved to be one of the resident Sheriffs at Glasgow Sheriff Court. He has contributed regularly to judicial training and has lectured to, amongst others, local faculties, reporters to the children’s panel and medical professionals. He sits on the council of the Sheriffs’ Association and on the UK Judicial Pensions Committee. He has contributed articles to a number of publications including Scots Law Times, Scottish Criminal Law and Benchmark, the newsletter of the Judiciary of England and Wales. He contributed to MacPhail on Sheriff Court Practice in 2006. InSeptember 2010 his textbook on “Scots Criminal Law” was published.

Dr David Parratt QC


David has a wide ranging practice covering many different aspects of civil law. He is particularly strong in the areas of land law construction, trust work, general commercial work and contract.

He has a keen interest in international commercial arbitration and has practical experience of various forms of alternative dispute resolution including arbitration, adjudication and mediation. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), holds Chartered Status and is a Board Member of the Faculty's Dispute Resolution Service.

He has lectured in Arbitration in the Universities of Dundee, Dubai and Aberdeen and is peer appointed as an arbitrator onto many international panels.

David has prosecuted in the High Court of Justiciary, appeared in Outer House and led as counsel in the Inner House. He has also appeared before the Sheriff Courts, before the sheriffs principal, the Scottish Land Court and the Scottish Lands Tribunal.

David also has rights of audience in other jurisdictions having called to the English Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 2009 where he is a member of Crown Office Chambers as well as the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2016.

Since 2012, he has held the position of Director of Training and Education, being responsible for the training of intrants on the Faculty's 9 month training programme.

Moira Orr

Procurator Fiscal, Glasgow

Show Notes

This is the third in a multi-part series on the interface between healthcare and the legal system. We aim to cover all the main essentials including:

  1. the structure of the legal system

  2. how to provide statements and prepare for court

  3. conduct within court (and what to expect)

We have 3 incredible guests giving expert advice for health professionals called to court.

This episode covers severe & life-threatening injuries (and the legal significance of those terms) plus citations.

Take Home Points

Severe Injury

  • Is an ‘aggravation in law’ alongside permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment

  • Tends to bring a case from a summary court to a sheriff and jury court

  • There is no strict legal definition but examples of severe injury would include

    • multiple lacerations

    • deep wounds

    • loss of blood

    • broken bones

    • requiring surgical intervention

  • It is up to the jury to decide if it is felt to be a severe injury but the medical professional will be asked for their opinion on this matter, and you will be questioned in court in a way to relay this to the jury

  • Permanent Disfigurement

    • this definition will be determined by how well the injury heals and which part of the body is involved (the face is more disfiguring than areas covered by clothing)

  • Permanent Impairment

    • after normal healing has concluded, the victim is left with ongoing issues such as nerve damage

Life-Threatening Injury

  • Danger to life can be actual or potential (even if there was no injury the act had the potential to risk life e.g. being thrown from a moving car)

  • It is up to the prosecuting authorities to determine the level at which someone is prosecuted, and it will be informed by advice from the doctors, but not determined by it

    • they will look at all available evidence to make their decision

  • Police may ask about threat to life to determine if the case was ‘attempted murder’

  • Remember that we are typically NOT expert witnesses but ‘witnesses to fact’

    • most important information to give is:

      • description of the injury found

      • investigations carried out

      • what treatment was given

    • be careful to not stray beyond your competence or expertise

  • If asked for further opinion on the injury:

    • don’t answer if you don’t feel comfortable doing so

    • it you feel comfortable - it would be fair to suggest what may have happened had you not provided the treatment you did

      • say things lie: ‘it is likely..’ or ‘it is probable that…’

    • if it was a risky injury that luckily required little treatment, it might be fair to say that ‘it wasn’t life-threatening but had the potential to be’.


  • requests from the crown office to appear on their behalf in a criminal tial

  • usually a police office will leave them for you at your place of work

  • they do have a standing in law and you are obliged to answer them

  • please make contact with the procurator fiscal office when you receive one and they will do their best to minimise any disruption to your work/life:

    • they can inform you of the liklihood of trial and when likely to begin

    • they will try to make it most convenient for you and try to avoid holidays

    • they can place you on standby so you can remain at work as long as possible and phone you when you are needed.

I got a citation but was no longer required - why?

  • court scheduling problems (staff off sick etc)

  • prosecution and defence were able to agree your evidence in advance thereby not requiring you to attend

  • the accused person pleads guilty, thereby not requiring court

Hannah BellComment