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The Evidential Picture

A free CPD event for Family Law Solicitors that looks beyond the findings of hair and blood tests.

Next Event Coming Soon

In this free accredited talk with 3 hours of certified CPD, Dr Catherine Pyves asks :

Are Family Courts Seeing the Whole Truth in Drug and Alcohol Cases?

Lab reports are a fast, simple way to validate suspicions over drug or alcohol use. But with accepted margins of error and scope for mitigation, we have to see them for what they are: a first layer of evidence that’s more indication than proof.

Unfortunately, many cases in the Family Courts are skirting over the variables – presenting data as definitive, and bypassing the medical view that should form part of a nuanced evidential picture.

For all parties in the case, this creates a serious risk.

It leaves room for an expert witness to dismantle one side of the argument. It can even lead to a dismissal and condemnation by the judge – as we saw in Justice Moylan’s landmark ruling of 2010.

And ultimately, it can bring the wrong outcome for the family. Whether that means removing a child without cause or keeping them in an unsafe environment.

So what should we be doing?

What extra steps should we all take, as safeguarding professionals, to help courts take a balanced, measured view of the evidence?

Join us for this free event, where Dr Catherine Pyves considers the missing steps – and sets out a practical approach for use in private or public cases.


How to build an evidential picture that holds all the answers and stands up to the scrutiny of an expert witness.

Over two sessions, we’ll look at the distinct challenges of alcohol testing, followed by a revealing analysis of drugs.

Next Event Coming Soon – Register Your Interest Now:

At a Glance

Talking points across the two sessions include:

  • Common drugs: modes of ingestion, effects, detection and treatments
  • Which tests should you order, to build a robust case – without overspending?
  • Why certain drug and alcohol markers are repeatedly challenged in court
  • Why positive and negative tests can lead to false conclusions
  • When multiple tests point in one direction, do you still need medical input?
  • How past and present patterns of misuse affect the risk to the child
  • Multi drug-testing to detect diversion – where one drug replaces another
  • How misuse has spiked during lockdown, and the impacts we need to anticipate
  • Treatment orders: monitoring and relapse prevention to keep families together

We’ll cover these issues and more, with ample time for questions. Plus a chance to meet peers and share ideas over coffee.

Dr Catherine Pyves

As Medical Director at Atkinson Lewis, Dr Pyves oversees the recommendations made in all our drug and alcohol cases. Through medical interpretation or psychiatric assessment, she adds a human context to lab results – creating a balanced picture of evidence for consideration by Family Courts.

This talk draws on her years of handling drug and alcohol cases through the Probation Services, A&E and General Practice.

CPD training for Family Law Solicitors - Atkinson Lewis

New Dates Coming Soon

We’re lining up venues in Wales, the Midlands and North of England

To stay informed, drop us a line and register your interest. Let us know your location and we’ll tell you when there’s a new event in your area.

How Can We Help You Today?

We’re here to assist with private and public law cases in the Family Courts. If you’ve got a question, need a cost or you’re ready with an instruction, give us some details and we’ll get back to you quickly.