KEN MASON’S NEW TEAM EXPLAINS MODERN FORENSIC MEDICINE BRILLIANTLY An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
There is no doubt- modern barristers and solicitors need this book as the twenty-first century moves into its main, post-celebrity phase, with medical and technological advances coming to the top of our legal and humanitarian agenda.
The title is a great reference work for both criminal and civil issues as many briefs become so much more complicated as the issues between the parties deepen. Trainee lawyers will also find it very useful with the 30 pages of appendices covering all those important practical points which take so long to look up.
Cowan and Hunt’s agreement to update Ken Mason’s original 1978 work has given us a first class contemporary statement on what constitutes forensic medicine as far as lawyers are concerned with its brilliant introduction and early chapters on applied anatomy and physiology, and comparative medico-legal systems. There are 31 chapters detailing the medical and legal considerations faced by forensic pathologists from the point of reporting a death through to the various topics of investigating and diagnosing cause of death. The work also covers forensic issues relating to non-lethal violence, mental health and public health. New material includes commentary on wounds, explosions, head injuries, transplantation, asphyxia, marriage and pregnancy.
Numerous legislative reforms are given the right pitch here setting out knowledge of the impact of new laws including:
• Human Rights Act 1998 (inevitably) • Sexual Offences Act 2003 • Human Tissue Act 2004 and Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 • Gender Recognition Act 2004 • Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2001 • Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 • Mental Capacity Act 2005 • Mental Health Act 2007
Thirty years ago Mason foresaw that the day of the single-author textbook was over and it is understandably so now because of the detail required today in many aspects of law and medicine and the range of the issues covered. Cowan & Hunt cover all aspects of the relationship between forensic medicine and the law exceedingly well, including an overview of general issues relating to medical ethics, negligence, and the regulation of the medical profession.
We liked the diagrams and the explanations of Latin best as it actually reminded me of the nicer aspects of studying biology at school (some fond memories here!).
The authors write that “the intention of this textbook is to give the lawyer a better understanding of the expert evidence provided by health care workers in both the civil and the criminal courts and in consultation”. The team succeed as the “Mason” brings science to the lawyer for our particular purposes when trying to simplify the complex for a particular tribunal or client.
It is clear to me that “Forensic Medicine for Lawyers” is a most valuable addition to the practitioners’ common law library, whether it is crime or PI, and we would imagine we will need another edition as the pace of scientific and medical advance continues and further updates are needed. Sharon Cowan and her team are to be congratulated on a genuinely readable book which deals with hard cases in a very practical way.
Thank you, you have made our professional lives a little easier.