... the experts forum for discussion and information
Published quarterly and distributed free to all
registered expert witnesses, Your Witness acts as a forum
for the discussion and dissemination of information relevant to
practising expert witnesses.
Coverage ranges from highly topical issues (such as legal reform
and court reports) to more background business matters
(including getting paid, fees, disbursements
and much more).
The following table shows the contents of the last four issues.
To gauge the quality of Your Witness firsthand, you can
||In this issue we take a look at whether the report of an expert who is no longer able to act for a party has to be disclosed as a necessary condition of the party being able to appoint a new expert. It has become increasingly viewed as a requirement to be imposed by the court, but is that true? We also publish the results of our latest expert witness survey. If you are keen to know how others view the expert witness scene, including summary statistics on charging rates, this is the article for you. We ask can evidence an expert has studied in one case be reused if the expert is subsequently instructed in another action flowing from the same incident? What if the new instructing solicitor does not even know of existence of the evidence? We unpick the distinction between expert evidence that is opinion and that which is factual. The distinction may, at first glance, appear to be fairly academic, but there are some quite important consequences that flow from these different elements of the expert’s evidence. If forced to sue for your fee, we urge you to be careful who you sue - if you get the name wrong you could be on a sticky wicket. And finally we offer some words of caution to experts who undertake pro bono work for lawyers. Such commendable social justice instincts can backfire!
||Brexit remains a hot topic as Article 50 is finally triggered and the UK wheels like a slow dreadnought at the Battle of Jutland to face what is fast becoming the Grand Fleet of a belligerent European antagonist. While that manoeuvring takes place, we use the opportunity to look at what will be involved in disentangling the Gordian Knot that is EU law in the UK. Confidentiality relating to proceedings held in open court is seldom contentious because all documentation and judgments will generally be in the public domain. The same is not true of arbitration. With an increasing number of experts acting in such cases, it is worth reviewing the current position regarding confidentiality rights and obligations in arbitration. An over-eager judge stars in our case report from the Court of Appeal. The judge got so involved that he began to answer the questions that had been put to the expert by counsel in cross-examination! The question asked is: Did this have an impact on the safety of his final judgement? The justice system is keen to get us all in the hot-tub together - whether we want to or not! Our article looks at the benefits of hot-tubbing and what is holding things up. And finally, we ponder the proper response should you end up being approached by both sides in a case.
||Expert witnesses are busy people and have to juggle their available time as best they can. The courts, too, with increasingly overstretched resources, must endeavour to manage court time as efficiently as possible. But, what would you do if you found yourself warned for a whole 3 months! We consider the issue of trial windows, trial dates and how the witness summons can become a very blunt tool. Also inside this issue we report on an interesting side issue that arose in the Dr Squier case about whether disciplinary tribunals can refer to earlier trials in which the expert was criticised by the judge. Being instructed in a case when you have a connection with one of the parties needs to be handled with great care and openness. We discuss a recent case in which the expert fell down badly in this respect and stress the importance of early action to highlight any connection. It is a common enough experience for experts in the witness box to find the barrister ‘playing the man’ when they realise they have no way to undermine the evidence itself. It is, therefore, refreshing to hear that one judge, at least, has had more than enough of it.
||Publicly confronting dogma is a risky business that can have long-lasting consequences. The situation of Dr Squier is a case in point, an expert who challenged professional dogma on ‘shaken baby syndrome’ and has spent the past year or two defending herself in professional disciplinary proceedings. Apart from the revealing light her case casts on the GMC’s (in)ability to conduct its business effectively, it holds important lessons for any expert who believes professional conventional wisdom needs to be confronted. Also inside this issue we look at how you can deal with appeals from your instructing lawyer to change your report. While some such requests are perfectly valid, others are most certainly not. A growing market for medical experts is requests from employers for a medical report on an employee (or potential employee), we look at what issues this raises for the expert. A recent decision of Birmingham County Court has suggested that in some circumstances the court can order the disclosure of items such as draft documents, and even a solicitor’s attendance note of conversations with experts! If this principle is correct, it will ring alarm bells for experts and lawyers alike. Finally we responsed to a couple of helpline questions on instructions that suddenly involve a litigant in person, and on dealing with requests to defer billing for extended periods.
What the experts say
I receive various publications from
the Academy of Experts, Expert Witness Institute and Chartered Institute
of Arbitrators, all of which I try to read, more or less, or at
least scan through for useful information. Your Witness is easy
to read... and contains information useful to me and other experts.
In my opinion, the best source of information of them all!
Terry Wolfe, Flooring Consultant
... as always, [Your Witness]...
is an informative and stimulating publication in keeping with the
generally very high standard of the UK Register of Expert Witnesses.
Dr P K Buxton, Consultant Dermatologist
Can I compliment you on the periodic
publication of Your Witness, which I find informative and very readable.
Mike Lucas, Management Consultant and Knot Analyst