Colloquium – the UK civil law approach to epidemiology/ statistical evidence

The next meeting of the section will be on 11 June at Fountain Court Chambers. We will be discussing the role of epidemiological and statistical evidence in civil law. A range of speakers will present their view and there will be time for discussion. Sign-up for this meeting is required as the number of attendees is limited. The registration page can be found here:


Date:     11 June 2018 – 2-5pm

Venue:  Fountain Court Chambers, London EC4Y 9DH

Chair:  Dr Claire McIvor


  • Practitioner’s view by Leigh-Ann Mulcahy QC
  • Judge’s view by Mr Justice Stuart-Smith
  • Legal academic’s view by Professor Jane Stapleton
  • Statistician’s view by Professor Jane Hutton
  • Epidemiologist’s view by Professor Alan Silman
  • Open discussion


To consider the approach in case-law regarding the validity and application of epidemiological and statistical evidence in UK civil law and in particular:

  • Whether, and in what circumstances, statistical evidence can be used on its own to prove causation;
  • the validity and application of the “doubles the risk” test to (a) proof of defect and (b) proof of factual causation;
  • whether there is confusion about how the civil (balance of probabilities) standard of proof operates and its relationship with factual causation;
  • whether the right experts are being used in court in relation to these issues;
  • the differences between epidemiological and statistical evidence;
  • the relevance of the Bradford-Hill criteria;
  • whether there are any gaps evident in understanding/approach between the law and statistics/epidemiology and, if so, how these might best be bridged?

 Relevant cases:

XYZ v Schering Health Care [2002] EWHC 1420 (QB)

Sienkiewicz v Grief (UK) Ltd [2011] 2 AC 229, Supreme Court

Heneghan v Manchester Dry Docks Ltd [2016] 1 WLR 2036

Metal on Metal Hip Litigation judgment (forthcoming)

Relevant materials:

ICCA/RSS guide “Statistics and probability for advocates: Understanding the use of statistical evidence in courts and tribunals” at pp.67-70:

Dr Claire McIvor: “Debunking some judicial myths about epidemiology and its relevance to UK tort law” Med.L.Rev 2013, 21(4), 553-587

Professor Jane Stapleton: “Factual causation, mesothelioma and statistical validity” LQR 2012, 128 (Apr), 221-231

Dr Gemma Turton: Evidential Uncertainty in Causation in Negligence (Hart, 2016)

Professor Philip Dawid: “The Role of Scientific and Statistical Evidence in Assessing Causality” in Professor R Goldberg (ed) Perspectives on Causation (Hart, 2011)


RSS and ICCA guide to statistics for legal professionals

On 19 October the Royal Statistical Society and the Inns of Court College of Advocacy published a new guide to statistics for barristers and others in the legal profession. The RSS Statistics and Law Section were involved in preparing the guide, which can be found here:

ICCA/ RSS guide


AGM and cyber crime meeting

The next meeting of the section will take place on Tuesday 17 October 2017 from 14.00 to 16.30 at the Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8LX.

The annual general meeting will be held from 13.40 to 14.00. Following the AGM there will be a joint meeting with the Data Science Section on cyber crime featuring talks by Professor Niall Adams (Imperial College London) and GCHQ. The schedule is below:

14:00 – 14:30 Coffee and Tea

14:30 – 15:30 GCHQ speaker. Title: Data science for security at GCHQ. GCHQ

15:30 – 16:30 Prof. Niall Adams. Title: On Constructing Cyber-Analytics. Department of Mathematics, Imperial College, London

This event is free to attend but registration is required on the following link:



GCHQ speaker

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)

Title: Data science for security at GCHQ

This talk will give a brief survey of data science for cybersecurity at GCHQ, and some thoughts on longer-term challenges for the statistics community.


Prof. Niall Adams

Department of Mathematics, Imperial College, London

Title: On Constructing Cyber-Analytics

Enterprise network defense is providing great opportunities for the development and deployment of statistical and machine learning methods. Such methods are intended to complement existing defenses, such as firewalls, virus scanners, and intrusion detection systems – which are predominantly signature-based. The role of data analysis methods is to provide enhanced situation awareness, by providing monitoring and alerting mechanisms to detect departures from “normal” behavior. In developing analytics in this context, a variety of challenging problems need to be addressed, including the volume and velocity of the data, high levels of heterogeneity, temporal variation, and more.  We review aspects of the problem and characteristics of the various data sources.  At present, the vision of jointly modelling various data sources at different levels of network abstraction, appears out of reach due to data volume and timeliness concerns. Instead, we describe a set of novel, and often simple, analytics that operate within different levels of the abstract hierarchy.


Slides from joint meeting with RSS local group

Slides from the talks at the joint meeting with the Glasgow RSS local group on 27 February can be found on the local group webpage:

Slides can be downloaded by clicking the link next to the speaker’s name.

Thanks to the speakers Professor Jane Hutton and Dr Tereza Neocleous for an excellent meeting! For a summary, see the following link:

Mon 27 Feb – joint event with RSS Glasgow local group (livestreamed)

Statistics & The Law – an event hosted jointly by the RSS Statistics and Law section and the RSS Glasgow local group.

Date:                                    Monday 27th February 2017

Speakers:                            Professor Jane Hutton, Department of Statistics, University of Warwick; Dr Tereza Neocleous, School of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Glasgow

Time:                                    5.30pm-7pm (followed by drinks and nibbles)

Place:                                    LT 908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XH

Livestreaming:                  This event will be simultaneously broadcast online via livestream

Registration:                       Please register to attend the event in person or to join the livestream here: Those who for the livestream will be contacted via email with a link and participation details 24 hours prior to the event

Twitter:                                Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag  #RSSGlaLaw

Jane Hutton: Epidemiological evidence in civil legal cases – ‘If anticoagulants had been administered sooner, my client would not have died.’ ‘This drug damaged the sight of my patient.’ How much money should be awarded to a child who is disabled due to medical negligence? Should a teenager with cancer be given active treatment if doctors estimate he has two weeks to live? Statements and questions such as these are the basis of civil law suits, in which one party claims damages from a second party, or demands particular actions. Many lawyers still only request expert opinions from medical doctors. However, statisticians can contribute to civil law suits by finding evidence relevant to the particular case, evaluating it, and then presenting the information.

Tereza Neocleous: Models for forensic speaker comparison – This talk will present ways in which statistical modelling can be used to evaluate the evidential value of voice recordings such as those occurring in hoax phone calls, calls related to extortion, fraud cases, or involving abuse or threats. Examples of how vocal features extracted from such recordings can be modelled to provide a measure of the strength of evidence will be presented, followed by a discussion of opportunities and challenges in this field in the era of big data.

19 October – Meeting in Manchester

On Wednesday 19 October there will be a joint meeting of the RSS Statistics and the Law Section and the RSS Medical Section at the University of Manchester.

Date and time: 13.30 to 17.00, 19 October

Location: Blackett Lecture Theatre, Schuster Building, Brunswick Street, University of Manchester


A lot of research into causes of deaths for different population and patient groups use data that were not collected for such a purpose. There are particular caveats to how causes are coded within hospital and death certificate registration data that need to be acknowledged, in order to correctly interpret such analyses. The RSS Medical and Stats & the Law Sections have organised an afternoon of talks on these caveats and challenges. Confirmed speakers and talks are:

Mr. Michael Singleton (Senior Coroner for Blackburn, Hyndburn & Ribble Valley and lead coroner for the UK Disaster Victim Identification Cadre of Advisory Coroners):
“A coroner’s perspective on the conclusion of suicide.”

Dr. Peter Sidebotham (Associate Clinical Professor and Reader in Child Health):
“One to two children per week? Challenges in interpreting data on deaths from child abuse and neglect”

Prof. Tim Millar (Senior Research Fellow, National Drug Evidence Centre):
Title of talk to follow.

Dr Ben Windsor-Shellard (Mortality Analysis group, Office for National Statistics)*:
“Death certification and mortality statistics”

*Note that Ben will be speaking in place of Claudia Wells.

This meeting is free to attend, but please register at the following link:


2016 Joint Statistical Meetings – Chicago

On Wednesday 3 August, the Section held a session titled “Do courts appreciate the power of statistical evidence?” at the JSM in Chicago. The session was chaired by Joseph Gastwirth and featured the following speakers:

Jane Hutton, University of Warwick: Expert evidence for civil cases – Examples and ethical challenges Slides
Edward Cheng, Vanderbilt University and Columbia University: Detecting and correcting publication bias in legal cases
Claire McIvor, University of Birmingham: The misuse of statistical evidence in tort law Slides
Qing Pan, George Washington University: Statistical issues arising in important recent cases in the United States Slides

Slides from the talks can be downloaded using the links above.
Thanks to all the speakers for an excellent session.