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An audit of one insurance company's files on all employer's liability and third party motor claims settled over two years for 5000 pounds or more presented an opportunity to review the medical reports on the patients involved. A stratified random sample of files on 203 patients contained 602 reports prepared by 400 consultants. Content analysis was undertaken to evaluate compliance with published guidance on reports prepared for medico-legal purposes and to ascertain how well reports met recipients' requirements. While clinical topics were well covered, generally to a high standard, other functional, psychosocial and occupational topics, reflecting the wider clinical and non-clinical frame of reference within which lawyers and insurers normally seek information and advice, were covered less frequently, extensively and comprehensively--leaving considerable scope to improve these aspects of assessment and reporting. Further review of this aspect of professional practice should include attention to the appropriateness of existing guidance, postgraduate training requirements and the involvement of other agencies or professions in some aspects of assessment for medico-legal purposes.