Issue 1 September 1995
Welcome to our first
Welcome to the first of the newsletters we at
J S Publications will be producing to keep you
informed about matters relating to your work as an expert
Hitherto, I have only written to you once a year, at
the time when we submit for approval a draft of your entry
in the next edition of the UK Register of Expert
Witnesses. With so many new developments to report,
though, I feel there is a need for us to be in more frequent
contact. Hence this newsletter, which will, I hope, enable
me to keep you better informed about matters relating
to the Register, as well as provide space for
the discussion of topics of general interest to the expert
The in this
issue analyses the replies we received to the Expert Witness
Questionnaire distributed in May, and I will not anticipate
here John Lords findings. I would, however, urge
you to read the article right through and then, if you
have not already done so, return a completed questionnaire
which we launched in April has been warmly received by
expert witnesses, as a simple way to advertise their competence,
and by lawyers, as a means of identifying experts experienced
in the requirements of litigation. Full details are given
in this issue on how you may begin to use the logo yourself.
The Profile Sheet is another of our recent innovations.
It enables us to provide our lawyer subscribers with more
detailed information on you than it is appropriate to
include in your Register entry at no extra
cost to yourself or the subscriber. If you have not already
availed yourself of this new service and would like to
do so, please see .
describes a service for solicitors that is still at the
planning stage, but requires your help before it can be
launched. If you can contribute some nuggets of information
for our Nota Bene project I would be very glad to hear
I hope that you will find this first issue of our newsletter
to be of interest. Any comments you have on it, and still
better any items you may care to contribute to future
issues, would be most welcome.
Dr Chris Pamplin
The ring of
Because of the objective vetting procedures which we at
J S Publications employ in compiling the UK Register
of Expert Witnesses, having an entry in it demonstrates
competence in that role. Until recently, however, there
has been no simple way for you to indicate that you are
included in the Register. All that has now changed
with the introduction of the Register logo. The
logo provides a convenient means for you to demonstrate
your expert witness credentials, on your stationery, reports
and any advertising material you produce.
If you would like to make use of the logo there are three
ways in which you can do so. First, we can supply it in
the form of rolls of transparent stickers which come in
three different sizes. Then again, should you wish to
incorporate the logo in your letterhead we can supply
bromide artwork for it which you can hand on to your printer.
Finally, for those of you who print your own letterhead
via your PCs, the logo is available electronically in
four common formats: Windows bitmap (.BMP), CorelDRAW!5
(.CDR), placeable postscript (.EPS) and the industry standard
TIFF format (.TIF).
The bromide artwork and electronic format can be supplied
to you free of charge, although we do ask you to return
the floppy disk once you have made a copy for your own
use. The transparent stickers come in three diameters
13.5, 20 and 26 mm. A roll of 500 stickers
in any one size costs £10.00 (+VAT).
If you would like to order the logo in any of the available
formats, or have any queries about it, please write to
me at J S Publications or telephone (01638) 561590.
Expert witness survey
In May this year J S Publications distributed
a questionnaire to a large sample of the experts who have
entries in the 8th edition of the UK Register
of Expert Witnesses. Of the 1341 questionnaires mailed,
451 were returned a response rate of 33.6%. This
number of replies is easily large enough to permit a statistical
analysis of the answers provided, while the level of response
encourages me to think that any conclusions to be drawn
from the analysis may well be applicable to expert witnesses
in general. Certainly one of the most remarkable features
of the survey is the uniformity of the statistics across
the whole range of those questionnaired. Time and again
the same results emerged, regardless of the length of
time those replying had been engaged in expert witness
work, the workload it engendered for them or the amount
of expert witness training that they had received.
Experience and prospects
Overall, those replying to the questionnaire
were very experienced. Just about 60% of them had been
undertaking expert witness work for more than 10 years,
and a further 31% for between 5 and 10 years. On the other
hand, only one in five categorized it as their principal
activity, and for half of them it accounted for less than
one fifth of their workload.
More interesting still, the great majority 82%
foresaw their involvement in expert witness work
as increasing in the future.
Frequency of enquiries
We asked our experts to tell us how many enquiries
they had received from instructing solicitors during the
previous 12 months, and their replies revealed widely
differing levels of demand. At one end of the scale 5%
of them reported that they had received no enquiries during
the period, while at the other end 28% reported to have
had more than 25. The median figure was 10 enquiries over
the 12 months.
Frequency of instruction
The questions we posed under this heading distinguished
between those instructions to write expert reports and
those requiring evidence to be given in court or before
a tribunal. As might be expected, there was a much greater
incidence of the former, with 27% of those replying having
written more than 25 reports during the previous 12 months
but only 2% having made that many court appearances. Indeed,
almost 35% of the experts completing the questionnaire
had made no court appearances at all during the period.
The median levels of activity were, for writing reports,
between six and 10 instructions, and for giving evidence
in court, between one and five instructions.
A number of the questions touched on the business
side of being an expert witness, and it has to be said
that they produced some disquieting answers. Thus:
- 43% of the respondents do not routinely ask enquirers
how they came to hear of their expert witness capabilities
- 68% have no standard form of contract for use when
- 41% do not even stipulate by when their fees should
This situation is all the more surprising when one considers
that the great majority of expert witnesses are professional
people used to dealing with clients in a business-like
way in their other spheres of activity.
Payment for services rendered
The answers to questions on this topic revealed an even
more lamentable state of affairs. Thus:
- only 32% of those experts who stipulated payment of
their fees within a fixed period were able to report
that the solicitors instructing them settled on time
in even the majority of instances, while a staggering
41% claimed that solicitors did so in less than one
case in four.
- 52% of the 346 respondents who accepted instructions
in legally aided cases reported that in at least half
of them solicitors excused delay in paying fees on the
grounds that they had yet to be reimbursed themselves
by the Legal Aid Board a situation which need
never arise if solicitors claimed for expert witness
expenses in good time.
These findings clearly demonstrate the need both for
individual expert witnesses to adopt a more rigorous approach
in their dealings with solicitors and for the latter to
meet their obligations far more speedily.
We asked a number of questions about training
and whether more might be welcomed. Bearing in mind that
over 90% of those replying had been undertaking expert
witness work for at least 5 years, their answers on this
topic were no less surprising than those already mentioned
but, in this case, encouragingly so.
It is no doubt to be expected that the majority of expert
witnesses have received no formal training in either the
requirements of litigation or how to conduct themselves
in court. It is, after all, only in the last few years
that courses have been devised for this purpose. Indeed,
in such circumstances it is commendable that 43% of those
returning the questionnaire had already taken advantage
of such courses. What is remarkable is the near unanimity
of their answers to the subsidiary question, Was the training
of value to you?, with 96% replying Very much so.
Turning to future training requirements, 39% of respondents
expressed an interest in attending day courses on court
techniques, and 37% said that they would be interested
in renting training videos on the same topic. And, no
doubt because of their favourable previous experience
of it, those who had undertaken some training already
were just as keen to attend courses and rent videos as
those who had undertaken none.
Just 26% of the experts who answered the question about
the professional organisations they belonged to mentioned
any that catered for their needs as expert witnesses,
and even this may overstate the position for expert witnesses
in general. Thus, while 16% of the experts who returned
questionnaires said that they were members of the Academy
of Experts, only 10% of those listed in the UK Register
of Expert Witnesses cite membership of that body
among their post-nominals. This suggests that fewer than
one in five of the experts in the Register currently
belong to any organisation related to their expert witness
Yet it is abundantly clear from the answers to the question,
Would you be interested in joining an informal association
for the purposes of exchanging information, promoting
training and establishing standards?, that such a body
could meet a real need. No fewer than 276 of the 451 replying
to this question, or 66%, answered, Yes, and
119 of them further indicated that they would be willing
to play an active role in the associations formation.
Intriguingly, this enthusiasm was shared in like measure
by respondents who already belong to other relevant organisations
in their case 63% replying affirmatively. Even
for them, it would seem, their needs as expert witnesses
are not being fully catered for.
It would be a bold step to conclude from the response
to these particular questions that the interest in such
an association would be shared by those other experts
in the UK Register of Expert Witnesses who have
yet to be sent the questionnaire and still less,
of course, by those who did not get round to responding
to the one they received last May. If these two groups
can now be persuaded to add their voice, it would be that
much easier to determine whether we have the makings of
a viable organisation committed to meeting the needs of
all expert witnesses.
- Four out of five expert witnesses expect their workload
- The majority are insufficiently business-like in their
dealings with solicitors.
- In general, solicitors are abysmally slow in paying
- More opportunities for training would be welcomed
even by the most experienced of witnesses.
- There is considerable support for the idea of an association
to promote the interests of all expert witnesses.
For me, the most intriguing outcome of the questionnaire
we distributed 4 months ago was the level of support it
revealed for the idea of an informal association of expert
witnesses. As you will have read in John Lords analysis
of the replies we received, no fewer than 276 of the 451
experts who responded indicated that they would be interested
in joining such an organisation.
The question which elicited such a positive response
suggested that the purposes of forming an association
might be to facilitate the exchange of information between
members, to arrange courses for those requiring further
training, and generally to help establish standards for
expert witness work. To my mind, though, its overriding
aim must be to get more work for its members, for unless
it succeeds in that, it cannot expect to retain their
Another highly significant statistic mentioned in Johns
article is that four out of five of those who returned
the questionnaire expect to be undertaking more expert
witness work in future. If that happens, they will be
in even greater need of the kind of help an association
could provide. In my view, the association cannot be set
up too soon.
I should make it clear that J S Publications
has no wish to run an organisation of this
kind. It can only come into being if a sufficient number
of expert witnesses want it to, and it can only develop
in accordance with the wishes of its members. My firm
is prepared, though, to give all the help it can to get
the association started and to provide it with administrative
help in the initial stages.
To help determine more exactly the extent of the interest
other experts may have in the formation of the proposed
association, we are enclosing the original questionnaire
with the copies of this newsletter that are going to those
who did not receive it the first time round. We are at
the same time re-circulating the questionnaire to those
who were sent it back in May but did not respond then.
In view of the relevance and importance of the information
we are seeking, I do hope that you will spare the time
to complete the form now.
Some of you may feel inclined to ask, Why promote
the formation of a new organisation for expert witnesses
when there already exists the Academy of Experts?
It is inevitable, of course, that there would be some
overlap in the aims of the two bodies, but the fact remains
that barely one in 10 of the individuals listed in the
UK Register of Expert Witnesses is a member of
the Academy. It cannot therefore be said that the latter
caters for the needs of more than a small minority of
the people currently engaged in expert witness work.
Assuming for a moment that an association of the kind
I am envisaging were to come into being, I see no reason
why it could not exist side by side with the Academy.
Indeed, in many respects they would be fulfilling complementary,
not conflicting, roles. All that, however, must be left
to the future. In the meantime, I would urge those of
you who have yet to complete our questionnaire to take
this opportunity of doing so and to return it to us as
quickly as possible. For our part, we will report back
on the replies we receive in the next of these newsletters,
and we will use the same means to keep you informed on
other developments regarding the proposed association.
Roll up! Roll up!
Bond Solon Training have sent us details of a
conference they are organising on the work of expert witnesses.
It is to take place at the Church House Conference Centre
in Westminster on Friday 27 October and will last
The various sessions promise to address many of the issues
currently facing experts who hope to expand their expert
witness work. There will also be an opportunity at the
end of the day for delegates to air their views on other
topics of common concern.
You will need to act fast, though, because Bond Solon
have been taking bookings from their former trainees for
some weeks past and numbers are limited.
For further details, please see the enclosed information
Raise your profile
A service that we launched earlier this year
is already achieving its objective of generating more
work for experts listed in the UK Register
of Expert Witnesses. Over 800 of you responded to
our invitation last January to provide additional information
about yourselves in the form of Profile Sheets. These
we undertook to store electronically and supply free of
charge to any subscriber who might wish to see them. We
are currently receiving up to a dozen calls a week from
solicitors taking advantage of this facility.
If you did not provide us with a profile in the spring,
now is the time to think about preparing one in readiness
for the next edition of the Register. To enable
us to scan the additional information onto our database,
the profile needs to be submitted on one side of an A4
sheet, with margins of 7 cm at the top, 3 cm
at the bottom and 2 cm on both sides, and it should
be typed or printed in a text size no smaller than 10 point.
Please bear in mind, too, that as your profile may also
need to be faxed, it would be as well to avoid tinted
or stippled backgrounds and to keep any artwork you use
as simple as possible.
We advertise the fact that we hold a profile for you
in your entry in the Register. Subscribers to
it will know from this that they can ask us for a copy
of the sheet should they require more information about
you, and we will fax or mail it to them by return. As
our computer will automatically head such a copy with
your name, address and contact numbers, there is no need
to incorporate these details in the information you submit.
Make it relevant
The sole purpose of providing solicitors with
profile sheets is to help them select the most appropriate
expert witness for the case they have in hand conceivably
from among a number listed in the Register with
similar fields of expertise. Because they will already
have access to a copy of the directory, there is no need
for you to repeat in your profile those details contained
in your entry. You should instead take the opportunity
to present such other information as might clinch matters
in your favour.
The following are examples of details you might wish
to cover, but they are meant as suggestions only and you
are certainly not expected to include them all. Remember,
you have just one side of A4 at your disposal!
- Give a brief career history.
- Expand on your qualifications.
- Summarise your instruction rate.
- Cite reported cases in which you have acted as an
- Give an indication of your fees.
- Expand on your expertise.
- List any major publications.
No charge is made for storing additional information
of this kind on our database or for supplying it on demand
to the solicitors who subscribe to the Register.
It is important, though, that your profile sheet should
look professional. If you do not have the means yourself
to produce one that is sufficiently smart, we will be
happy to lay it out for you at an hourly rate of £15.
Please telephone me on (01638) 561590 if you require
I very much hope that we may be able to add Profile
available from the publisher to your entry in the
9th edition of the Register.
We at J S Publications are always looking
for ways of enhancing the service offered by the UK
Register of Expert Witnesses both to you
as a listed expert and to the many solicitors who use
the Register. Our newest project of this kind
involves circulating to litigation lawyers vital kernals
of information on familiar topics which may be useful
to them when considering how to approach a particular
case. but which would be difficult for them to come by
without first referring to specialist or technical publications.
The best sort of Nota will alert the
solicitor to a particular aspect of a case which might
not be immediately obvious but which could be the one
on which the result turns.
The information will be distributed in the form of cards
which we plan to mail to our subscribers at regular intervals.
The general form of the card can be gauged from the fictitious
mock-up shown along side, each note being
between 20 and 50 words long.
If you feel able to contribute any information to this
project, please send or fax your note to J S Publications
marked for my attention. The solicitors stand to benefit
from the information you provide, as a contributor you
would benefit from having your name and Register
number shown on the card, and we both benefit from the
increased market awareness of the Register that
the distribution of the cards will engender.
The Intoximeter is designed
to recognise and compensate for acetone
in the breath, which absorbs light at the
same frequency as alcohol. However, methane,
which demonstrates the same absorption pattern,
is far more commonly present in breath and
is not recognised by the equipment.
Dr John Smith PhD FRCPath CChem No.123
The Intoximeter is only
an approved instrument if it is functioning
correctly. However, functioning correctly
covers the entire machine. If the clock,
which plays no part in the analysis, is
wrong, then the machine ceases to be an
approved instrument and its evidence is
Dr Susan Jackson PhD MCB CChem No.789
The Intoximeter readings
can be challenged on the basis that the
readings are too different. How different?
Government scientists say that a 20% difference
is acceptable because the equipment is measuring
two different breath samples. However, the
new Intoximeter aborts the analysis if the
readings are more than 15% apart.
Dr John Jones PhD FIBiol No.456