THE USE OF EXPERT WITNESSES: STEALING FROM THE CPS

It would be a good idea for those involved in civil litigation to read the Crown Prosecution Service:  Guidance on Expert Evidence.  Many of the points in that guide apply, with equal force, to instructing experts in civil proceedings. It is worthwhile reading for lawyers and experts alike.

FOR EXAMPLE: OVER-RELIANCE ON EXPERT EVIDENCE

Look at p.5.

“The dangers of an over-reliance on expert evidence without considering the
significance of the other evidence…”

DEFINITION OF AN EXPERT

An expert witness is a witness who provides to the court a statement of opinion on
any admissible matter calling for expertise by the witness and is qualified to give
such an opinion.”

THE DUTY OF AN EXPERT WITNESS

The duty of an expert witness is to provide independent assistance to the court by
way of objective, unbiased opinion in relation to matters within their expertise. This is
a duty that is owed to the court and overrides any obligation to the party from whom
the expert is receiving instructions”

CHOOSING AND INSTRUCTING AN EXPERT

I suspect we could all benefit from the section on choosing and  instructing an expert, including choosing the most appropriate expert, terms of reference and the letter of instruction (pp 13 – 15).

CONTENTS OF AN EXPERT REPORT

There is a detailed section as to what an expert’s report must contain (cross referenced to the CPR interestingly) at p.18.

The points to note at p.19 in relation to literature and material relied upon, primary facts, changes of opinion, a a range of possible explanations all apply to civil cases.

ALSO WORTH READING

  • Case preparation and management (p.23).
  • Joint reports and conferences between experts (23 – 24).
  • Doubts about the competence and credibility of the expert witness (27).
  • Instructing a second expert (30 – 31).
  • Continuing to rely on the discredited expert (31).
  • Using the expert witness at court (32).
  • Cross examination (33).
  • Challenging defence experts (34).
  • Conflicts of opinion between experts (35).
  • Expert fees (36).
  • The model letter of instruction (40).
  • Specific areas of expertise (43).
  • The “prosecutors fallacy” (47).

ALSO ON THE SUBJECT OF EXPERTS

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