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The functions of an expert who is appointed

Section 32(6) of the 1964 Act explains the functions of such an expert in further detail:

“An expert appointed under subsection (1)(b) shall—

 (a) ascertain the maturity of the child,

(b) where requested by the court, ascertain whether or not the child is capable of forming his or her views on the matters that are the subject of the proceedings, and report to the court accordingly,

(c) where paragraph (b) does not apply, or where paragraph (b) applies and the expert ascertains that the child is capable of forming his or her own views on the matters that are the subject of the proceedings—

(i) ascertain the views of the child either generally or on any specific questions       on which the court may seek the child’s views, and

(ii) furnish to the court a report, which shall put before the court any views expressed by the child in relation to the matters to which the proceedings relate.”

It may therefore be the case that the report of the expert may address the matters under either:

  • Sections 32(6)(a) and (b) – to ascertain the maturity of the child and report to the court on whether the child is capable of forming their own views
  • Sections 32(6)(a) and (c)  - to ascertain the maturity of the child and report to the court the views of the child
  • Sections 32(6)(a), (b) and (c) - to ascertain the maturity of the child, report to the court on whether the child is capable of forming their own views, and (where the child is capable of forming such views) report to the court the views of the child.

This is important because the prescribed fee structure differs based on whether or not the expert is required to furnish a report on the views of the child (i.e, section 32(6)(c)). A fee of €240 is prescribed where such a report is not required. A higher fee of €325 applies where such a report is required. Where the expert is called as a witness they are entitled to seek a maximum of €250 in expenses in respect of their appearance before the Court.