Frequently asked questions

What advice can you provide before I submit a case?

I will provide an initial free assessment to establish whether an appropriate examination can be undertaken. I can provide advice regarding suitability of your documents and what I require in terms of comparison material. No indication of the outcome of the full examination can be given at this assessment stage. Please see the Case Submission page for further information.

What does peer-review mean?

As an experienced document examiner, I believe that my assessments will withstand scrutiny in a court of law. However, to provide even greater surety to my clients, appropriate peer review of my findings will be conducted as part of the examination. Such peer review is carried out by a fellow experienced document examiner who has completed the necesssary training and is also an expert witness in their own right. I believe peer-review can be an important part of the examination process and ensures my clients have complete confidence in the content of the report that they receive.

What is a court-compliant report?

Where it is intended that reports will be used as evidence in court, my reports will contain all of the necessary declarations and clauses that ensure compliance with current court submission procedures. For Civil cases, reports will be compliant with Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

How do I submit a case?

Please see the Case Submission page. If you are sending original documents for examination, I recommend using Royal Mail Special Delivery post to ensure full tracking. Please provide the tracking reference once the documents have been posted.

Will my documents be damaged?

All examinations are non-destructive so your documents will not be altered or damaged whilst in my possession.

Forensic Document Examiner or Graphologist?

A forensic document examiner provides an opinion regarding the authenticity or authorship of signatures and handwriting. This is based on scientific principles and involves the detailed examination and comparison of the characteristics of handwriting and signatures. Training to be a forensic document examiner requires a scientific degree and an apprenticeship of at least two-years, following a structured course. Graphology claims to determine physical characteristics and attributes of personality from handwriting and signatures. Many graphological organisations offer correspondence courses that can be completed within a few months.

Can you date documents?

It is not usually possible to determine accurately the date that a document was produced. Sometimes indirect methods may provide an indication of the approximate date (for example a watermark) but there is no generally accepted method in the UK for dating ink entries.

What is your Range of Opinions?

All handwriting and signature cases will be reported using a standard scale of opinions, in line with that used by forensic document examiners in the UK and beyond. I use the 7-point scale below:

  • Conclusive evidence - identification of one individual to the exclusion of all others
  • Strong evidence - unlikely that any other individual was responsible
  • Limited evidence - on the balance of probabilities it is likely that the individual was responsible but it cannot be ruled out that another person could be responsible
  • Inconclusive - cannot determine whether or not the individual was responsible
  • Limited evidence - on the balance of probabilities it is likely that the individual was not responsible but it cannot be ruled out that they could be responsible
  • Strong evidence - unlikely that the individual was responsible
  • Conclusive evidence - the individual can be eliminated as being the writer

Can I pay for a letter of opinion instead of a report?

A letter of opinion may be offered by some individuals at a fraction of the cost of a report. However this may not provide an appropriate representation of the level of examination required. In order to provide a reliable opinion I always carry out a full examination and assess the significance of my findings based on my experience. All results are provided in a report, with images where considered useful, and includes any necessary declarations for use in court.


© 2020 Elisabeth Briggs