Expert Witness

In the Experts opinion

It is normal practice for both party's to have their own experts, however when litigating in the High Court the use of a single joint expert is becoming more common, thus keeping the costs down. Judges may direct both sides to agree the identity of a single expert or in the absence of agreement, the judge may direct that the parties seek a nomination from a relevant professional body.

An Expert Witness is normally appointed and instructed by a party's solicitor although this may not always be the case, especially if the dispute has not yet got as far as arbitration or litigation.

Although you are probably familiar with what an expert witness is, you may not be so familiar with what an expert witness can and can not do.

The biggest misconception is that your expert witness is there to promote your case, after all you are paying him or her for their services. When appearing in front of a tribunal, be that in arbitration or litigation, the expertís overriding duty is to assist the tribunal on matters within their expertise. They are not their to act as advocate for your case.

The duty to assist the tribunal overrides any obligation to the person from whom the expert has received instructions or the party paying the expert witness, (UK Court Civil Procedure Rule 35.3.(1) & (2)). Expert evidence must be the independent product of the expert, uninfluenced by the pressures of litigation or arbitration.

An expert does however have a duty to exercise reasonable skill and care to those instructing them, but the extent of their report will be governed by the scope of their instructions. If an expert witness is to be appointed then those instructing the expert must give careful consideration as to what they ask the expert to do.

The expert is there to ascertain the facts, (and possibly the law), in an objective and impartial manner and report those findings to the tribunal in order to assist the tribunal in coming to a decision. Experts may give an opinion on a matter as opposed to stating only pure facts. They are obliged to discuss all aspects of the case within their expertise, even if this goes against what you would like them to say.

This underlines the importance of appointing an expert witness earlier rather than later in the dispute process. Not only might this potentially help to settle the disagreement but it will also identify the weaknesses of your case early in the process when something can possibly be done about them. This is far better than having weaknesses exposed before a judge or arbitral tribunal when it will be too late to try and mitigate those weaknesses. The damage will have been done.

We can provide experienced independent construction expert witnesses who can give written and oral expert evidence to a court or tribunal. Each will be fully aware of their responsibilities and duties when carrying out this role. Expert Witness testimony may be called for in mediation, conciliation, adjudication, arbitration or litigation.

We may also undertake the appointment of a single joint expert for arbitration or litigation proceedings or act as an expert when an expert determination is to be undertaken. (See Neutral Services in the menu)