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How to choose an Expert Witness.

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

Experts are in nearly all cases instructed by the litigation solicitors. This is an important step in building a case for a trial hearing and it needs to be done in a way that is compliant with the court procedure.

What should you look for in an Expert Witness?

There are a number of important attributes that you should make sure that your expert has and these would include:

  • A real expertise in the specific area under consideration;
  • Suitable qualifications;
  • An understanding of his duties as an expert in the court;
  • Ability to understand the case and the claims made by the Claimant;
  • Ability to express his/her views in an articulate, concise and intelligible manner;
  • Confidence in giving evidence under oath;
  • Will not change his view except where new evidence is produced;
  • Will not be bullied by any other expert or in cross examination by counsel; and
  • Will carry credibility with the judge or jury depending on who will be deciding the outcome.

At Expert Evidence we pride ourselves in all our experts having all the above.

How is an expert instructed?

The assessment of the expert is usually the first important step. The solicitor will probably want to know what his/her expertise is in the specific area that the case involves and also what experience the expert has in writing reports and giving evidence under oath. The Expert Witness Institute, Academy of Experts, and Sweet and Maxwell all have accreditation procedures so you can see who has successfully worked as an expert before. It will also be necessary to ensure that the expert does not have any conflicts of interest with the litigation parties. Expert Evidence concentrates on banking, investment and tax litigation.

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.”
Albert Camus

It will then be necessary for the expert to provide the solicitor with the terms of business (‘ToB’). This is normally a standard document and deals with the way that the charging will be made, methods of payment and responsibility and liability.

The solicitor will send the expert a list of questions (the ‘Instruction Letter’) that they specifically want the expert to address. This will normally request that the expert should produce a report in conformance with various court rules (in the English Civil procedure rules this is laid out in part 35, and part 33 for criminal trials) and finally specify any dates that have been ordered by the court for exchange of reports or trial dates. The expert will need to keep these free.

Finally the expert will need to provide a quote on the cost of the work required. This stage has now become particularly important under the Jackson reforms introduced in early 2013.

When this is all agreed so the expert will be able to start work.

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Read the next article – What constitutes bias in an expert witness?

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.