In cases where the authorship of a piece of handwriting is unknown, or is being disputed / questioned, the role of the handwriting expert is to compare that handwriting with specimen (or reference) handwriting of an individual suspected of being the author.
In a similar vein, signatures that are disputed can be compared with specimen signatures of the individual it purports to be to establish if it is genuine or an attempted forgery / simulation.
It is also possible to compare two pieces of handwriting with each other to establish common authorship, enabling the issue of was the same person author of the handwriting on these two documents to be addressed.
Handwriting examination is concerned with the scientific comparison of disputed or questioned handwriting / signatures with reference or admitted handwriting provided by a suspect, and possibly other individuals, with a view to providing expert opinion on whether or not a particular person was the author of certain handwriting.
The examination itself, using a low power microscope and light sources, involves the assessment and significance of various handwriting characteristics and features such as structure, shape, slope and relative heights of the letters / numbers comprising the handwriting.
In addition to general awareness, handwriting examiners must have expertise in the interpretation of observations made during an examination, taking into account influences such as natural variation, age and disguise.
Numerous other factors are often significant, and these are typically dependent on the circumstances of a particular case. These factors include the amount of questioned / reference handwriting, and the quality of the writing (original document or scanned copy), both of which can often place constraints on any opinions in respect of authorship.
Ideally, original documents would be examined in all cases. However, opinions can be given based on photographed, scanned or photocopied documents. The quality and clarity of the documents submitted may influence the strength of opinion expressed.
Our experts can also examine indented writing on documents using ESDA analysis.
We regularly undertake the examination of a large number of different document types in both criminal and civil cases where the authorship of handwriting and / or signatures is an issue, including completed application forms (bank loan, mortgage forms etc) , letters, cheques, legal documents such as wills and tenancy agreements, diary entries, drug dealer “tick lists” and handwritten envelopes.