OBJECTIVE: The objective was to explore the communication between courts and expert witnesses in legal proceedings concerning child sexual abuse in Sweden. METHOD: A cross professional research team performed a qualitative text analysis of files covering 20 court cases (court report and expert witness statement) from 4 different years (1985, 1989, 1992, and 1997). RESULTS: Expert witnesses applied a wide variety of assessment procedures. Several patterns of communicative difficulties were identified, categorized as "mismatch," "misunderstanding," "misuse," and "missing pieces." Experts and courts sometimes used similar words (e.g., "credibility") but seemed to apply different meanings to them, indicating a lack of a mutual conceptual framework. CONCLUSIONS: The combination of brief expert assignments and diverse assessment procedures turned out to be a specific risk factor for communicative impairment. Alternate strategies for improved communication are discussed.