... build a sound foundation
According to the series of expert witness surveys conducted by the UK Register of Expert Witnesses (from 1997 to 2005, tell me more...), the number of experts who use a written form of contract when accepting instructions from a solicitor has never exceeded 47%. That leaves over half of all experts claiming not to use a form of written contract.
As every lawyer knows, setting out clear terms for any contract, at the outset, is essential if subsequent problems are to be avoided. The contract between expert and instructing lawyer should be no different. Indeed, the need for expert witnesses to be upfront about their terms of engagement is now a requirement of the CPR.
Section 7.2 of the Experts Protocol requires experts and lawyers to place their professional relationship on a firmer footing by ensuring a contract – ideally written – is in place before any work begins.
Experts used to waiting in wistful hope of payment, but who do not have clear terms for engagement embodied in written terms and conditions, must now move into compliance with the requirements of the Experts Protocol.
Experts listed in the UK Register of Expert Witnesses have long had access to Factsheet 15 dealing specifically with terms of engagement (take me to the Factsheets...) but with the launch of the Little Book on Expert Witness Fees we have made creating a set of terms even easier.
This section of the Register web site presents Terminator which enables experts listed in the UK Register of Expert Witnesses to create personalised sets of terms of engagement based on the framework set out in Factsheet 15. So now there is even less of a reason why any expert should take on instructions without setting down a firm contractual base.