Are opinions on handwriting and signature examination acceptable in the
Yes. Evidence of this nature is often the focus of Court actions. The Courts therefore rely on forensic document examiners evidence to a large degree in cases involving questioned documents. Robert Radley has given evidence in over 20 countries worldwide on the subject.
What is the examination likely to cost?
Fees are charged on an hourly basis, unless agreed otherwise. Full details are required as to the work to be undertaken. Copies of the documents concerned, and if possible some of the comparison materials will be required for us to provide a quote. Over the telephone, an estimate is unlikely to be given as some signatures/handwritings etc are easier to work on than others, alternatively, some signatures etc are far more complex and a detailed examination is likely to take longer.
How long is the turnaround time for a report?
The turnaround for report is always quoted in terms of the number of days/weeks further to receipt of all necessary documentation. We try to keep the turnaround time as short as possible, generally in the order of two to three weeks. Our current casework turnaround time can be provided on contact. We aim to work to clients’ timetables and therefore, urgent matters can be expedited if necessary.
Do we need original documents for examination?
Yes, if they are still in existence. Photocopies will not reproduce a considerable amount of potentially vital evidence on a document. Advice can be given if documentation is held by a third party who is reluctant to release the same.
What do I need to submit by way of comparison documents?
A response to this question would be made on replying to an enquiry and tailored specifically to the specific case once all information has been received.
With signature cases, are specimen signatures taken specifically for the
No. Signatures taken specifically for the purpose of the comparison examination are regarded as poor quality material. The “artificial” circumstances in which such samples are taken may cause accidental or deliberate modification of a signature style. What is required is course of business documentation representative of different signatures executed under different circumstances from around the same time period as the questioned document.
With signature cases, how many comparison signatures are needed?
This will be dependent upon the nature of the signature concerned which can only be assessed from sight of a copy of the same. In any response to an enquiry, a letter will be sent identifying the number of signatures that would be required for the particular style of signature structure concerned. Usually, comparison material will need to be obtained from third parties. We can provide a list of potential sources by way of an aide memoire to the party concerned, for the retrieval of signatures, so as to enable them to collate appropriate documentation.
Can you always say positively whether a signature is genuine/forged?
Not always. However, on occasions, conclusive opinions can be given. There is a widely accepted scale of opinions for experts which is adopted by this Practice. The opinion offered is dependent upon the weight of evidence available and this would be explained in detail in a Glossary attached to the report.
Will the examination stop the other side’s expert from examining the document in the same way?
No. All examinations are non destructive and another expert would be in a position to reproduce the examination at a later point in time.
Can the expert have a quick look at the document to give an indication verbally if it is worth pursuing the matter?
No. Pursuing an investigation on this basis is a recipe for disaster. A “quick look” at a document is not an appropriate approach for a proper forensic examination. All aspects of the document need to be examined in detail. To do otherwise and provide a “quick verbal report” is neither professional nor reliable. An incomplete examination can result in evidence being very easily overlooked or misinterpreted, and therefore, this is not a practice undertaken by this Laboratory.
Can you carbon date a document or the ink on it?
No. However, there may be other avenues of investigation which can yield significant results as to the date or history of a document.
Does the Practice keep up to date with modern trends and research?
Yes. Not only do we have one of the best libraries of authoritative texts in the UK, we also have a collection of over 1000 hard copy scientific papers concerning the field of forensic handwriting and document examination. We also have a collection of (and subscribe to) journals and periodicals in which publications concerning forensic handwriting and document examination are published.
Additionally, we have various computer databases on specific topics such as type font identification, fax fonts and headers and various bibliographies concerning publications in the field. We also have access to electronic versions of over 8,000 scientific papers in the field of forensic document examination.
The Practice is part of a worldwide organisation of document examiners who share information and assist in enquiries concerning information and developments in the field.