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Expert Witness Costs and Fees – what to expect.

Posted on 01/01/2009 · Posted in Expert Information

How do Expert Witnesses charge?

The majority of experts charge by the hour. Fees can vary from about £50 per hour to probably ten times that in financial litigation. In highly specialist areas such as tax; then rates can be as high as £1,200 per hour. As with all things in life you get what you pay for and the very good experts are at the top end of the range. There are also some disciplines where experts are in extremely short supply and this inevitably leads to higher rates.

The area where there tends to be large numbers of experts is in the medical fields, and allied disciplines such as child custody and psychiatry. As a result the rates tend to be a bit lower than might otherwise be the case. Areas where there are very few experts tend to be in the financial field which is where Expert Evidence has chosen to concentrate on.

The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Albert Einstein

Fixed fees for a specific area of work or for an initial assessment are also very usual but it will then be normal to have to specify the amount of evidence that will need to be reviewed and limit some of the research analysis that may be needed to back up a report. The Jackson Reforms have been brought into the English legal system in the first half of 2013. These have attempted to limit the costs of litigation and make the total expense of bringing a case to court more predictable. Expert Evidence has been compliant with the requirements since before their publication.

It is normal for an expert to quote to provide a draft report for consideration by the client and legal team. This will be done in a format such that it can go straight to the court but in the majority of cases new evidence will emerge and then the expert will need to review the case in the light of the new information.

What does an expert witness cost?

The cost of an expert report will vary depending on the amount of work that needs to be completed to produce it. However there are some general guidelines which are available to help.

On the basis that the evidence including the particulars of claim and the defence are less than 750 pages of A4, an expert report will normally be able to be completed in about 15-25 hours. It will need to be assessed against the exact questions that the instructing solicitor wants the expert to address. Obviously if there are only a few questions then it may be at the bottom end of the range, whereas if the solicitors are looking for assistance in perhaps over 8 different areas then it will be at the top end.

Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.”
Oscar Wilde

Experts in the financial fields tend to charge in the range of £150-£400 per hour, where the bottom end of the range deals with arithmetical accountancy type work with the top end for complex derivatives and private banking cases of significant claim value. This would provide a guide price of £2,250 to £10,000 to provide a draft report dealing with the issues and will enable the legal team to assess the strength of their case.

A good expert will at the initial stage understand the facts of the case and this may provide invaluable input to the way the case is handled. Early consultation is advised.

As the case progresses towards the court date so the other side will also probably instruct an expert and then the court will arrange for simultaneous presentation of the expert reports. In some cases, one expert prepares his report first and the other side then has a chance to read it and then prepare their own. The court will normally instruct the experts to meet and prepare a joint statement on where they agree, disagree and the reason that they take their different views. These discussions are without prejudice and usually confidential are ultimately summarised in a memorandum which is presented to the court. It is intended that the real issues behind the case are focused on and the Judge can see quite clearly what the positions are of the two sides. This part of the expert’s job will usually cost an additional £3,000 but again will depend on the work involved.

Finally, eventually the expert will need to be present at the court to give evidence under oath. The cost here will depend on their hourly rate and the length of time the opposing counsel wish to cross examine them. Will high value claims this can be for an extended period; I think the longest I have been in the witness box is for 5 hours. It is usual as well for the expert to sit in on the case as this can provide very useful feed back to the legal team about evidence that has been presented.

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Read the next article – What does an expert witness do?

Disclaimer – Please confirm any of the above views with your solicitor. Expert Evidence takes no responsibility or provides any guarantee that the views above are correct for your particular case or jurisdiction.