Friday, February 14, 2014

Expert witnesses

Notes from a presentation by Alex Sandland of Dyne Solicitors Limited

An expert is:

* Suitably qualified - possessing suitable profession qualifications
* Suitable experienced - possessing suitable professional experience
* Scale and extent of qualifications/experience is proportionate to the scale and seriousness of the dispute
* Independent - have to pass the test 'would they give the same opinion if instructed by the other party?'

In legal proceedings opinions are inadmissible and witnesses must only present facts.  However, an expert is able to state opinion proceedings (provided they fall within their particular area of expertise). 

An experts duty is to the court ONLY.  They cannot promote the case of the instructing party.

A Protocol for the Instruction of Experts to give evidence in civil claims has been published by the civil justice council.

There are a number of associations/registers including:

* The Expert Witness
* Expert Witness Institute
* Directory of Expert Witnesses

A number of organisations offer professional courses, including the Law Society

The criteria used to choose an expert usually include letters after name, years of experience, papers written, standing within the profession (are you approached by people in your industry for advice) and reputation.

Obviously, expert witnesses want to get paid.  It is normal to get an advance fee of 50%, with the remainder paid when the case has been closed.

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