Trigger warning – this post contains discussion of the law around rape – I will not be going into any detail about allegations and confine the post to legal principles, but I’m aware that both the subject and the whole issue of how rape has been dealt with by the Courts may be triggering for some.
Over the last two years, the family Court has been rather tying itself up in knots about the interelationship between the criminal law about rape and how such cases are dealt with and how allegations of rape are dealt with in the family Court.
I’d thought that Re HN had largely resolved this, with this guidance
In Re H-N, the Court of Appeal was addressed at length by a wider range of parties and interveners than were present in these appeals on whether the family court should analyse factual issues within the criminal law framework. At , the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the general principle that:
“The Family Court should be concerned to determine how the parties behaved and what they did with respect to each other and their children, rather than whether that behaviour does, or does not, come within the strict definition of “rape”, “murder”, “manslaughter” or other serious crimes.”
At  of Re H-N, the President emphasised that there was a clear distinction between (a) family judges needing to have a sound understanding of the potential psychological impact that serious sexual assault may have on a victim’s behaviour, both during and after the event, and in the way that they may give their evidence and present in court and (b) family judges avoiding being drawn into an analysis of factual evidence based on criminal law principles and concepts. However, issues concerned with process in the family court such as the conduct of the hearing and the scope of cross examination could potentially draw upon good practice in the criminal court :
“The distinction between a court having an understanding of likely behaviour in certain highly abusive settings and the tightly structured requirements of the criminal law will not, of course, be clear-cut. That is particularly so when the judge in the Family Court must conduct their own analysis of issues such as consent, and must do so in the context of a fair hearing. In this regard, the procedural manner in which the hearing is conducted and, in particular, the scope of cross examination of an alleged victim as to their sexual history, past relationships or medical history, justify consideration separately from the general prohibition in determining the substantive allegation. Nothing that is said in Re R, or endorsed in this judgement, should inhibit further consideration of such procedural matters. They are beyond the scope of this judgement and are more properly to be considered elsewhere.”
But Knowles J was asked in this case to give some further guidance
Re A and Another v B and Others 2022
These were the issues the High Court was asked to give a view on :-
A) Whether the family court should apply a consistent definition of (i) rape, (ii) sexual assault or (iii) consent, making clear the difference between consent and submission;
B) Whether the failure to have a consistent approach to these issues was in breach of the Article 6, 8 and 14 rights of the Appellant mothers;
C) Whether the definitions of rape, sexual assault and consent used in the criminal justice system should be either a starting or finishing point for judges in the family court;
D) What the approach of the family court should be to a complainant’s sexual history when determining allegations of rape or sexual assault; and
E) Whether, when determining allegations of rape and/or sexual assault, judges in the family court should give themselves a warning about rape myths. Generally, such myths concern themselves with the behaviour or experiences of a complainant.
The Court addressed A) and C) together
23. In my view, the correct starting point is that the family court must not import criminal definitions as an aid to fact-finding. Its focus, as Re R and Re H-N made clear, is to determine how the parents of a child behaved towards each other so as to be able properly to assess risk and determine the welfare issues in each case. I note that Parliament recently passed the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and, in so doing, expressly replicated in the family court some provisions applicable in the criminal courts, for example, in relation to cross-examination by litigants in person. However, Parliament declined to legislate for a framework in the family court within which to determine allegations of rape and sexual assault: it was not invited to do so during the passage of the Act. In those circumstances, it is difficult to conceive that this court might now attempt to do so.
At first instance, the family court determines allegations of rape and sexual assault without a legislative definition or framework. That is consistent with the purpose of a fact-finding exercise in family proceedings, which is to determine only such factual issues as are necessary to assess risk and to illuminate the welfare issues. That approach in private law proceedings is consistent with the approach in public law proceedings in which the family court conducts fact-finding in circumstances where, for example, a parent is alleged to have caused the death of a child, or where a parent is alleged to have inflicted injury on a child.
The Appellants placed reliance on examples of variable approaches taken by first instance judges sitting in the family court to the factual determination of allegations of rape or sexual assault. It is unnecessary for me to identify the judgments in issue since the relevance of those decisions was not the characterisation of behaviour by reference to concepts of consent or submission to sexual intercourse but rather that the court had accurately determined narrative findings which could inform the subsequent risk and welfare analysis. In that regard, I am very clear that the comments of the Court of Appeal at  in Re H-N are crucial in underscoring the clear distinction between the family and the criminal court, namely that:
“Behaviour which falls short of establishing “rape”, for example, may nevertheless be profoundly abusive and should certainly not be ignored or met with a finding akin to “not guilty” in the family context. For example, in the context of the Family Court considering whether there has been a pattern of abusive behaviour, the borderline as between “consent” and “submission” may be less significant than it would be in the criminal trial of an allegation of rape or sexual assault”.
It is my firm view that a focus on seeking to characterise or establish behaviour as meeting a particular definition runs the risk of the court becoming “unnecessarily bogged down in legal technicality” (see  of the decision of Cobb J in F v M (Appeal: Finding of Fact)  EWHC 3177 (Fam) and  of Re R in the Court of Appeal). Applying criminal definitions narrows the court’s focus inappropriately away from the wider consideration of family relationships at play in a fact-finding hearing. In Re R, albeit in the context of findings of “murder” or “manslaughter”, McFarlane LJ identified at  the scope and purpose of a fact-finding hearing in the family court as follows:
“The focus and purpose of a fact-finding investigation in the context of a case concerning the future welfare of children in the Family Court are wholly different to those applicable to the prosecution by the State of an individual before a Criminal Court. The latter is concerned with the culpability and, if guilty, punishment for a specific criminal offence, whereas the former involves the determination of facts, across a wide canvas, relating to past events in order to evaluate which of a range of options for the future care of a child best meets the requirements of his or her welfare…
… In family proceedings, the outcome of a fact-finding hearing will normally be a narrative account of what the court has determined on the balance of probabilities) has happened in the lives of a number of people and, often, over a significant period of time. The primary purpose of the family process is to determine, as best that may be done, what has gone on in the past, so that that knowledge the ultimate welfare evaluation where the court will choose which option is best for a child with the court’s eyes open to such risks as the factual determination may have established”.
Thus, a family judge must consider a “wide canvas” and scrutinise the family relationships – whether of adult to adult or adult to child – over a period of time in order to arrive at a factual determination relevant to both risk and welfare. Whilst I recognise the effort which Mr Metzer KC and Dr Proudman have invested in their framework for determining allegations of rape and sexual assault/abuse, that framework is too narrowly focused on the specifics of whether a sexual relationship is “willing” or not. In essence, it substitutes the word “willing” for “consent” and would be as prescriptive as applying the concepts used in the criminal courts. It is, in my view, too narrow a prism through which to view and investigate the true nature of an adult relationship.
The danger of adopting too narrow a focus on the sexual relationship between two adults was evident in the decision of the Court of Appeal in K v K  EWCA Civ 468 where, amongst other matters, the Court of Appeal was critical of a family judge for failing to stand back and take account of the whole of the evidence before him. In , the Court of Appeal stated this:
“In this case, however, by failing to step back and take into account the whole of the evidence before him, the judge placed unjustifiable weight on the issue of whether the mother had had a conversation with the father about her unhappiness at his initiating sex when she was asleep. He elevated that issue into the determinative one, saying that if it were proved, the allegations would themselves be made out. The judge failed to bring the various points of challenge made by the father into his evaluation. Those failures meant that there cannot be said to have been a fair consideration of these important allegations from the father’s perspective. At no stage did the judge step back and consider the mother’s credibility in the round, bringing into account his findings that the mother had put forward false allegations of reporting to Dr C, of financial control, and (also) of isolation from her family when in fact the family had lived with her parents between 2004 and 2012.”
K v K is also of importance because it emphasised yet again what ought to be the focus of a fact-finding exercise in children cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, namely whether the adult relationship was characterised by coercion and/or control. In  of Re H-N, the Court of Appeal was at pains to emphasise that “consideration of whether the evidence establishes an abusive pattern of coercive and/or controlling behaviour is likely to be the primary question in many cases where there is an allegation of domestic abuse, irrespective of whether there are other more specific factual allegations to be determined”. Barely a year after Re H-N was determined, K v K sought to clarify a perception that it was a requirement for a family judge to determine each and every allegation of domestic abuse during a fact-finding exercise. In robust terms, the Court of Appeal stated this was not the case and that a family court should determine “only those factual matters which are likely to be relevant to deciding whether to make a child arrangements order and, if so, on what terms” . That steer from the Court of Appeal underscores my view that as wide a canvas should be brought to the determination of specific allegations of sexual abuse as is brought to any overarching allegations of coercive and controlling behaviour.
As to any criticism of PD12J for a failure to contain a framework to assist in determining specific allegations of sexual abuse, that is, in my view, misplaced. PD12J sets out a specific procedural framework for managing and determining allegations of domestic abuse within private law children proceedings. It includes definitions of the sorts of behaviour which constitute domestic abuse and general principles by which the court should be guided but, rightly, does not contain a detailed framework to assist the family court either in evaluating evidence or in determining what might constitute domestic abuse in an individual case. As I have already indicated, the inclusion of the type of framework advocated for by Mr Metzer KC would inappropriately narrow the court’s focus and run the risk of becoming a tick box exercise rather than a holistic evaluation of the evidence in a particular case.
I also acknowledge that there are examples of the family court analysing evidence by reference to principles established in the criminal court. Thus, the Lucas direction with respect to lies (R v Lucas (1981) QB 720) is firmly established as a principle in the family court and, when determining allegations as to whether an injury is inflicted, the family court not infrequently relies upon the guidance in R v Henderson and Others  EWCA Crim 1219 and R v Cannings  2 Crim Ap Reports 63, namely that the court should resist the temptation to believe that it is always possible to identify the cause of injury to a child. Finally, in F v M  EWFC 4, Hayden J had regard to s 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 when considering allegations of coercive and controlling behaviour. The first two examples do not concern definitions of criminal concepts or frameworks for establishing an offence. As Miss Fottrell KC submitted and I accept, these relate to the broader task of evaluating evidence more generally. Although in F v M, Hayden J considered the substantive framework for the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour, he analysed such behaviour by reference to the definitions contained in the FPR, specifically disapproving of an overly formulaic analysis which might tend “to obfuscate rather than illuminate” the nature of such behaviour within family proceedings (see ).
A recent example of the family court’s approach to allegations of sexual abuse within private law children proceedings is the case of Re B-B (Domestic Abuse: Fact Finding)  EWHC 108 (Fam). This judgment followed a re-hearing of allegations of domestic abuse following the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow an appeal against the original first instance decision (see Re H-N at -).
Thus, for the reasons set out above, I reject the need for the family court to apply consistent definitions of rape, sexual assault, and consent. I also hold that the definitions of rape, sexual assault, and consent used in the criminal justice system should have no place in the family court.
The Court considered the Article 6, 8 and 14 rights point B) at paras 33 and 43 of the judgment and concluded that there was no basis for concluding that the approach of the family Courts in relation to allegations of rape or sexual assaults was a breach of those rights.
In relation to D) – guidance about introduction of evidence of sexual history, the Court was in agreement that some guidance would be beneficial – Practice Direction 12 J did not provide specific guidance on these matters.
Having reflected on the invitation to give some guidance on this issue, I do so mindful of the comments in  of Re H-N which did not inhibit further judicial consideration of procedural matters such as the scope of cross-examination of an alleged victim as to their sexual history and past relationships. The framework I offer for determining these issues is firmly grounded in the established approach to evidence in the family court.
My starting point is that the established approach to evidence in the family court can accommodate circumstances in which a parent, either making or facing allegations of sexual abuse, seeks to adduce evidence of the other person’s sexual history, or their own sexual history or their shared sexual history. To summarise, this involves the following process:
(a) An assessment of the relevance of the evidence for which permission is sought to be adduced, having regard to the need for the court to consider the “wide canvas” of evidence;
(b) Thereafter, where objection is made to such evidence being adduced, a balancing exercise as to the competing interests and Convention rights involved;
(c) At all times, consideration of the breadth of the court’s powers to control the manner in which evidence is to be placed before it.
Going into more detail as the process, the High Court said this:-
When considering these matters, the first step must be to consider the admissibility of the evidence in question. Admissibility is determined by relevance and the question of relevance is one of fact, degree, and proportionality (see  of Dunn v Durham County Council  EWCA Civ 1654).
When considering the question of relevance and evaluating the weight to be afforded to evidence which crosses that threshold, the family court applies well established principles, many of which were developed in the context of public law proceedings, but which are equally applicable to private law proceedings:
(a) The court must consider the “wide canvas” of evidence.
(b) Evidence cannot be evaluated and assessed in separate compartments but must be considered in its totality. The court must consider each piece of evidence in the context of all the other evidence (see  of Re T  EWCA Civ 558 per Butler-Sloss P).
(c) The decision on whether the facts in issue have been proved to the requisite standard must be based on all the available evidence and falls to be assessed against the wider context of social, emotional, ethical, and moral factors (see  of A County Council v A Mother, A Father, and X, Y and Z  2 FLR 129).
(d) The assessment of credibility generally involves more than mere demeanour, the latter being mostly concerned with whether the witness appears to be telling the truth as s/he believes it to be. Memory becomes fainter with every day that passes and the imagination becomes correspondingly more active. Thus, contemporary documents are always of the utmost importance (see - of A County Council v M and F  2 FLR 939).
The second step, where a party objects to the admission of otherwise relevant evidence, is to undertake a balancing exercise. Though determined in the context of an application for disclosure against the local authority, the approach articulated by Maurice Kay LJ at  in Dunn v Durham County Council is the correct one. It was followed by MacDonald J in R v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Disclosure of Asylum Documents)  EWHC 3147 (Fam). I observe that the Court of Appeal in Secretary of State for the Home Department and G v RH  EWCA Civ 1001 at - endorsed the approach to disclosure taken by MacDonald J and confirmed that it had application to a wide range of documents where disclosure was sought in family proceedings.
The approach in Dunn v Durham County Council is as follows :
“What does that approach require? First, obligations in relation to disclosure and inspection arise only when the relevance test is satisfied. Relevance can include “train of inquiry” points which are not merely fishing expeditions. This is a matter of fact, degree and proportionality. Secondly, if the relevance test is satisfied it is for the party or person in possession of the document or who would be adversely affected by its disclosure or inspection to assert exemption from disclosure or inspection. Thirdly, any ensuing dispute falls to be determined. We determined ultimately by a balancing exercise, having regard to the fair trial rights of the party seeking disclosure or inspection and the privacy or confidentiality rights of the other party and any person whose rights may require protection. It will generally involve a consideration of competing ECHR rights. Fourthly, the denial of disclosure or inspection is limited to circumstances where such denial is strictly necessary. Fifthly, in some cases the balance may need to be struck by a limited or restricted order which respects a protected interest by such things as redaction, confidentiality rings, anonymity in the proceedings or such other order. Again, the limitation or restriction must satisfy the test of strict necessity.”
53. Insofar as an application might be made by an alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse to adduce evidence of a complainant’s sexual history with another individual, I find it difficult to envisage circumstances in which this would satisfy the test of relevance. How might such evidence about behaviour with person A make a complainant’s allegation of rape or sexual assault against an alleged perpetrator, person B, more or less probable? In making that observation, I do not intend that this should operate as an absolute bar on adducing such evidence since it is ultimately a matter for assessment by a particular court dealing with a particular case
More complicated is the question of relevance in relation to evidence of a complainant’s sexual history with the alleged perpetrator. The fact that adult parents had previously or subsequently engaged in consensual sexual activity of any sort does not mean that they were not raped or sexually assaulted on another occasion. However, evidence as to the parents’ sexual relationship may be logically probative of an allegation of partnership rape or sexual assault. Thus, communications between the parties of a sexual nature may well be relevant as may communications between them either before or after the relevant incident or time period. That approach is in keeping with the court’s obligation to consider the wide canvas of evidence and its duty to have regard to patterns of behaviour – both of the complainant and the alleged perpetrator – as described in Re H-N. It does not give an alleged perpetrator permission to produce any material that they wish if it is irrelevant and, if relevant, where it fails to meet the approach articulated in  of Dunn v Durham County Council.
Mr Metzer KC invited me to state that there would be a strong presumption against the admission of evidence relating to a complainant’s sexual history with an alleged perpetrator and to declare that the circumstances should be exceptional. I decline to do so. First, that approach runs contrary to current practice in the family court which has been centred on relevance and is free from presumption or starting point. It also runs contrary to the basic principle that, by adopting an inquisitorial approach, the court requires the best relevant evidence before it to assess both the risk posed by a parent or the welfare best interests of the child. Second, and practically speaking, the Appellant’s approach runs the risk of depriving the court of evidence relevant to its factual determination. I observe that there may well be circumstances in which evidence of sexual history as between partners is relevant to the court’s assessment of the dynamic, their respective patterns of behaviour and the nature of their relationship.
Based on the analysis above, I do not regard it as necessary for a party wishing to rely on evidence of sexual history between partners to make a specific application to the court for permission to do so. Practically speaking, this would add complexity and cost to already contentious children proceedings where a high proportion of litigants are self-representing.
Though not addressed in either the written or oral argument because it is not a matter at large in these appeals, I note that a complainant may wish to adduce evidence of an alleged perpetrator’s sexual history with other individuals to demonstrate a pattern of allegedly abusive behaviour (such evidence being described as similar fact evidence). The Court of Appeal in R v P (Children: Similar Fact Evidence)  EWCA Civ 1088 set out the approach to be taken to the admissibility of such evidence at the case management stage in , and -, emphasising the test of relevance and the need for the court to have available the best evidence to illuminate the subtle and persistent patterns of behaviour involved in coercive control, harassment and stalking.
In conclusion and to assist family judges in their case management task, I offer the following procedural framework, loosely based on that I articulated in Re M (A Child) (Private Law Children Proceedings: Case Management: Intimate Images)  EWHC 986 (Fam), namely:
(a) If a party wishes to adduce evidence about a complainant’s sexual history with a third party, a written application should be made in advance for permission to do so, supported by a witness statement;
(b) It is for the party making such an application to persuade the court of the relevance and necessity of such material to the specific factual issues which the court is required to determine.
(c) Any such application will require the court’s adjudication preferably at a case management hearing.
(d) The court should apply the approach set out above at -.
(e) If a party wishes to rely on evidence about sexual history between partners, they do not need to make a specific application to do so unless reliance is also placed on intimate images. In those circumstances, the party must issue an application in accordance with the guidance at - in Re M (Intimate Images).
(f) If a party objects to evidence of sexual history between parents/parties being filed, it should make an application to the court in advance, supported by a witness statement explaining why this material is either irrelevant or should not be admitted.
(g) Any such application will require the court’s adjudication preferably at a case management hearing.
(h) The court should apply the approach set out above at -.
Finally, and probably the most interesting, the “rape myths” point. Should the Family Court Judge give themselves a similar reminder about some of the common misconceptions surrounding rape and alleged rape that a criminal Judge would give to a jury to provide valuable context?
Proposition 5: Whether, when determining allegations of rape and/or sexual assault, judges in the family court should give themselves a warning about rape myths. Generally, such myths concern themselves with the behaviour or experiences of a complainant.
Mr Metzer KC submitted that family court judges needed to have a full understanding about the types of rape myths/stereotypes which had been pervasive in the judicial system for a long time. He noted that Crown Court judges were advised to give specific directions to juries about the types of stereotypes which were common in cases of sexual assault. He drew my attention to the relevant passages of the Equal Treatment Bench Book (July 2022), to the Crown Court Compendium and to the Crown Prosecution Service Guidance found at “Rape and Sexual Offences – Annex A: Tackling Rape Myths and Stereotypes”. The latter guidance contained a comprehensive list, outlining various rape myths by category and which contained subsections dealing with intoxication, victim behaviour, sexual history, inconsistent accounts and a victim’s response to sexual assault. The CPS Guidance is a dynamic document which is regularly updated in accordance with new case-law. Mr Metzer KC submitted that this Guidance would be a useful starting point for judges to remind themselves of rape myths and stereotypes before and during any fact-finding exercise.
In response, Miss Fottrell KC noted that family judges are now required to have Judicial College training in relation to sexual assault awareness as well as to attend extensive training programmes on domestic abuse. If this court considered that there were further training issues which may benefit family judges, the appropriate course was to bring this to the attention of the head of the Judicial College, Lady Justice King. However, if the court considered that the CPS guidance and the Equal Treatment Bench Book were useful, it was invited to say so for the benefit of judges in the family court.
None of the other advocates suggested anything markedly different from the submissions made by Mr Metzer KC and by Miss Fottrell KC. All the advocates accepted that, anecdotally, family judges not infrequently directed themselves as to rape myths and stereotypes.
I have reflected very carefully on what it is appropriate for me to say on this matter. Judicial training is a matter reserved to the Judicial College. In my view, the College is best able to assess what training is needed for family judges determining factual disputes between parents about the nature of their relationship, especially where those disputes concern allegations of sexual assault. In that regard, I note that the Court of Appeal highlighted the training available to family judges in - of Re H-N as follows:
“(67) Following the judgment of Russell J and at the request of the President, the Judicial College devised a freestanding sexual assault awareness training programme for Family judges. The programme draws heavily on the successful “serious sexual assault” programme for criminal judges. Since July 2020, it has been a mandatory requirement for all judges who hear any category of Family cases to undertake this programme. The programme, which is under constant review, includes elements in respect of psychological reactions to sexual assault and trauma, and has the benefit of contributions having been made by a number of victims of sexual assault discussing the impact that an attack has had upon them. In addition to the more general training in relation to domestic abuse, which is already in place for Magistrates, bespoke training suitable for the work they undertake in respect of sexual assault and trauma is in the process of being developed.
(68) This bespoke Family training these in turn into, and is further developed within, the extensive training programmes that are run in relation to domestic abuse by the Judicial College for the fee paid and salaried judges. These courses have been in place for some years and play a key role in both induction courses for newly appointed Family judges and continuation courses run for Family judges who are already in post.“
On the basis that I have found what follows of assistance in my own practice as the lead judge for domestic abuse, I draw the attention of family judges to Chapter 6 of the Equal Treatment Bench Book (July 2022) entitled “Gender”. Under a subheading entitled “Sexual Offences: Who is Affected?”, there is information about sexual offences which includes several paragraphs addressing rape myths which may feature in criminal proceedings (see -). Though written to assist those sitting in the criminal courts, there is much in that section which family judges may find useful. The Equal Treatment Bench Book is publicly available on the judiciary.uk website at Equal Treatment Bench Book July 2022 revision (2) (judiciary.uk). Likewise, the CPS Guidance on Rape and Sexual Offences at Annex A provides a comprehensive guide to the unhelpful stereotypes which may cloud judicial thinking in cases involving sexual assault. It too is publicly available on the cps.gov.uk website and was last revised in May 2021: Rape and Sexual Offences – Annex A: Tackling Rape Myths and Stereotypes | The Crown Prosecution Service (cps.gov.uk).
I have also come to the view that I should not produce a list of common rape myths or stereotypes or attempt to craft a standard self-direction about sexual assault stereotypes which a family judge might give her/himself. No list would be comprehensive. Further, it would run the risk of creating a rigid framework to which adherence would be given. That would deprive a family judge of the flexibility to think about what is apposite in the particular case, having been appropriately trained to recognise unhelpful stereotypes, and should they consider it necessary to do so, for a family judge to draw attention in her/his judgment to the manner in which they have guarded against applying any relevant stereotypes. Secondly, any self-direction I might devise would be equally inflexible because it cannot encompass the great variety of stereotypical thinking outlined, for example, in the two sources to which I have referred.
Finally, Mrs Justice Knowles, did remark that in cases where findings of fact are made it is helpful to ensure that they are recorded in writing and ideally appended to the order made.
Finally, I have already commented on the failure by the judge to either produce his own schedule of findings or, if what I was told was correct, to endorse the schedule drafted by counsel. He was not alone in so doing, as the judge in the ABC appeal also failed to produce her own schedule of findings (though one was later produced by counsel at her invitation and attached to her order). Paragraph 29 of PD12J requires a schedule of findings to be attached to the court order following a fact-finding determination. In my view, it is desirable that, with the definitions of domestic abuse contained in PD12J firmly in mind when doing so, a judge produces her/his own schedule of findings, either incorporated into the body of a judgment or appended to its conclusion. That course avoids any lack of clarity about the detail of what the judge found, and any schedule can then be incorporated in or appended to the court’s order. I make this suggestion fully conscious of the pressures on the family judiciary engaged in what can often be a relentless train of successive fact-finding determinations, but it is not intended to make the task of judgment writing more difficult. On the contrary, I hope it represents good practice which may help to illuminate a judge’s evaluation of the evidence and to inform their ultimate findings.